The Mavericks (7-19) and Timberwolves (15-11) are set to face off for the third time this season. Minnesota took both of the previous games in decisive fashion, scoring more than 110 points and limiting Dallas to fewer than 100 points in each game. The Mavericks particularly had trouble keeping the Timberwolves off the glass and were out rebounded by 30 boards in both games combined.
Both teams come into tonight’s matchup with a 5-5 record in the last 10 games, which can be celebrated for the team at the bottom of the Western Conference standings and condemned for the team currently sitting in fourth in the vaunted West.
Here’s what to watch for as the Mavericks look for their third road win.
Find easy baskets
On the season, the Mavericks have struggled to score easy points. That is, scoring points on the break and in the paint. Dallas currently scores the sixth fewest fast break points and the least amount of points in the paint in the entire NBA. If the Mavericks, who are giving up 111.5 points per game to the Timberwolves, are going to keep up, they are going to have to take advantage of the easy ones.
The Timberwolves currently give up 47.2 points in the paint per game (sixth worst in the NBA), and give up 13.8 fast break points to opponents (third worst in the NBA). It’s not the Mavericks’ strength, but the team can help themselves out by taking advantage of their opponent’s weakness.
Keep Minnesota off the glass
As previously mentioned, the Timberwolves have crushed the Mavericks on the glass this season. Although the Mavericks have been a better rebounding team as of late, their work will still be cut out for them keeping Karl-Anthony Towns and Taj Gibson off the boards. On the season, the Timberwolves are grabbing 25.6 percent of the available offensive rebounds, which is the fifth-highest percentage in the league. It will be all hands on deck limiting Minnesota but will be a key component to the outcome of the game.
In terms of scoring and style of play, the Houston Rockets are on one end of the spectrum, and the Timberwolves are on the other end. Coming into tonight the T-wolves shoot the second fewest three-point attempts per game and score the fewest percentage of total points from deep. Where they make some of that up is at the free-throw line. They have the third highest free-throw attempt rate in the league at .294, and 18.4 percent of their points per game come from the freebies. It’s a tall order with Jimmy Butler, Andrew Wiggins and KAT all shooting more than four free throws a game, but the Mavericks can make scoring a little more difficult by playing clean and sound defense.
How to watch
The teams tipoff at 6:00 p.m. Central and can be watched on FSSW and NBA League Pass.