Four-Pointer: Previewing the Minnesota Timberwolves

Brace Hemmelgarn-USA TODAY Sport

After blowing the doors off the United Center in Chicago Saturday, the Dallas Mavericks continue their road trip as they roll into Minnesota to face the quietly ascending Timberwolves.

What have the Timberwolves done lately?

A better question might be "What has Kevin Love done lately"?  Love is averaging 31.4 points, 14.6 rebounds, and 5 assists in his last five games.  He's taking over six threes a game(converting 42%), and getting to the free throw line over eight times a night.  It's no wonder Love has catapulted himself all the way to second in the NBA in PER.  Averaging over 30 points on less than 20 shots is pretty incredible, for any multi-game stretch, and he's doing it while also leading the league in rebounding and dishing out assists.  Last time these two teams met, Love finished with "only" 21-11, but I expect Love to want more this time around.

What stat about Minnesota might surprise you?

For a team with some relatively young parts(a very young point guard, at least), Minnesota takes care of the ball.  They are third in the NBA in turnover ratio.  This coming despite the fact that they play at the league's second-fastest pace, and move the ball around quite a lot.  Another surprising stat is the Wolves have the NBA's seventh best point differential(fifth best in the West), yet they currently sit outside the playoffs.  The last few years there has seemed to be a disconnect between the talent in Minnesota and the results.

Which Mavs player might be due for a big game?

It's been a month since the last game in which Monta Ellis shot better than 50%.  That game was -- you guessed it -- against the Wolves.  Monta looked to have the midrange game going a bit in Chicago Saturday.  If he keeps that going, and is able to find some open lanes to the basket that he couldn't against a very tough Bulls interior defense, I think Monta could get his groove back.  In his last five, Monta's statline has looked a little too much like his pre-Mavs days, with 18 shots leading to just 20 points thanks to a few too many bad jumpers.

What do the Mavs need to do to win?

Contain Kevin Martin, who has relished playing the Mavericks so far.  He went for 27 points last time out(on just 14 shots), and a season-high 32 the time before that.  Martin is the perfect Adelman offensive player.  He moves extremely well without the ball, he can hit the open three and he makes almost all his free throws.  Love is a great player and great players tend to get theirs, so it will be up to Carlisle and the Mavs D to try and make thing difficult for a secondary scorer like KMart.

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