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3 things to watch for as the Mavericks face off with the Timberwolves

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Dallas is looking to avoid the series sweep against Minnesota

NBA: Dallas Mavericks at Minnesota Timberwolves Brad Rempel-USA TODAY Sports

In game 76 of the season, the Dallas Mavericks (23-52) host the Minnesota Timberwolves (43-33) for the fourth and final time this season.

In the last matchup, the Mavericks were able to take a 90-89 lead with two minutes remaining, but the Timberwolves were able to squeak out the victory, 97-92. Harrison Barnes paced Dallas with 19 points, but Karl-Anthony Towns was the star of the game, scoring 28 points and grabbing 12 rebounds.

The Timberwolves sit alone at the seventh seed but are only a game and a half ahead of the ninth place Los Angeles Clippers, so expect a hard fought contest from the visiting team. On the other hand, the Mavericks occupy the fifth spot in the lottery standings.

Here’s what to watch for as these two teams take the court.

Dennis Smith Jr. closing the season strong

Arguably the biggest qualm surrounding Smith Jr. this season has been his shooting. On the year he’s shooting 39 percent from the field and 32 percent from deep. Those marks aren’t very good but hardly worth being overly concerned about. As the season draws to a close, it seems Smith Jr is saving his best stuff for the end. Over his last 11 games, Smith Jr. is averaging 17 points and six assists, shooting 40 percent from the field and 37 percent from three. Those numbers are fantastic and encouraging to see from the rookie as the grueling NBA season comes to a close. In two games (he sat out the last matchup) against Minnesota, Smith Jr. is averaging 13 points and three assists on 36 percent shooting. We will see if he can keep the momentum going.

KAT

There are times when reason, logic and sense overtake me, and I quit worrying and stressing about where the Mavs might select in the upcoming draft. Then I look on Twitter and see Towns detonated on the Atlanta Hawks Wednesday night for 56 points and 15 rebounds while canning six of his eight three point attempts. Obviously there are no guarantees in the draft, and Minnesota is just know starting to reach their potential, but seeing a former No. 1 overall pick, 22 year old do that in an NBA game validates what all these tanking teams are doing. Anyways, Towns is his usual dominate self facing the Mavericks. He’s averaged 25 points and 12 rebounds in three contests, and there’s really no reason to expect anything different. Poor Nerlens Noel.

If the Mavs push the pace...

Don’t be surprised to see the Mavs win this one. The Timberwolves haven’t played well as of late, possibly because they are gassed. They beat the Hawks thanks to KAT’s explosion, lost to the Grizzlies and barely beat the Knicks in the past few games. In the last two games alone, Tom Thibodeau played only eight players. Towns and Andrew Wiggins have both played 80 minutes each in the past two games. The Timberwolves have to be running on empty, just trying to make it to a first round matchup with the Rockets or Warriors.

How to watch

The Friday night hoops tip off at 7:30 CST. The game can be watched on FSSW or NBA League Pass.