Tonight the Mavericks head to Minnesota to face the struggling Timberwolves. The last time these two teams met Dallas won handily, pulling away early and leading by as many as 26 points. What can we expect to see this time?
What have the Timberwolves done lately?
Things are looking pretty bleak in Minnesota these days. The trade for Andrew Wiggins this summer, as well the handful of moves they've made since that one, were supposed to herald a rebuild for the T-wolves, who are focusing on the future of the franchise rather than the present. And Minnesota has some reason to be optimistic going forward, as Tim Cato wrote earlier this month, with Wiggins showing flashes of promise. But with their veteran starters Ricky Rubio, Nikola Pekovic (who hasn't played since he logged 12 minutes in the last game against Dallas) and Kevin Martin still sidelined with injuries, the present is still pretty tough to watch. Minnesota currently has the worst record in the Western Conference and the second-worst record in the NBA, worse even than Philadelphia. They've managed to win two of their last four, including a victory over Indiana in which Mo Williams scored franchise record breaking 52 points, but their season long win-loss record still sits at .175.
What are the team stats that may determine the game?
Minnesota shot the ball efficiently during their last game with Dallas, but gave up a mind-blowing 72 points in the paint, and they currently have the worst defensive efficiency rating in the league. This does not bode well against the Dallas offense. The Wolves' offense has also been struggling thanks to the injuries to their starters and is just the 25th most efficient, so it'll be tough for them to compensate on the other end of the court.
What do the Mavericks need to do to be successful against Minnesota?
The Mavericks are coming off one day of rest following a big road win over the Memphis Grizzlies. Dirk is looking rejuvenated, and the team is will be playing at full strength. Anything can happen in the NBA, but barring some sort of massive offensive collapse, it's hard to imagine the Mavericks losing this game.
But Minnesota may get Kevin Martin and Nicola Pekovic back tonight (both are currently listed as game-time decisions), which could breathe a bit more life into and provide a steadying veteran presence for the struggling young team.
Which Maverick may be due for a big game?
This will be J.J. Barea's first time back in Minnesota since he rejoined the Mavericks. Is it Barea revenge game time?
Tipoff is tonight at 7:00pm Central on Fox Sports Southwest.