The Dallas Mavericks (14-6) wrap up their second back-to-back of the season against the Minnesota Timberwolves (10-9). The Mavericks have won eight of their last nine, after last night’s 118-97 domination of the New Orleans Pelicans.
After starting the season strong, the Timberwolves had a tough November, going 7-7 over the month. While the Mavericks had a dip in early November, they bounced back with a solid 9-5 record with impressive wins against playoff caliber teams.
Tonight they’ll be tasked with slowing down Karl-Anthony Towns and a rejuvenated Andrew Wiggins, back home at the AAC. Here’s what we’ll be watching for in tonight’s game.
Calming Down KAT
The Timberwolves have a sleeper MVP candidate in Karl-Anthony Towns, a talented young big man who is playing his best season of basketball in his young career. Though he’s shot 40-percent or better over his last three seasons, what’s so impressive is the volume he’s taken this year (nearly double the attempts per game).
Maxi Kleber will have his hands full trying to slow KAT down, who has averaged 23 points and 12.5 rebounds in 14 games against the Mavericks. Though Dwight Powell has seemingly locked down his starter spot, look for Kleber to have the task of corralling KAT from taking this game over.
The Three-Point Story
It’s not uncommon for a Mavericks game to be determined from the three point line. The Mavericks have shot the ball well lately, with a few otherworldly games that have brought their season average up to 36-percent from three (good for 10th in the league). The Mavericks also defend the perimeter well, holding teams to under 35-percent from deep (10th in the league).
On the other side the Timberwolves haven’t shot the ball well this year, attempting the fourth most per game but connecting on 32-percent...dipping them down to 27th in the league. If you remove KAT’s shooting numbers, the T’Wolves are shooting under 30-percent from three. If numbers hold, the Mavericks have a chance to create some distance at the three-point line.
The Mavericks aren’t looking to play fast. At 20th in the league, Rick Carlisle and Luka Doncic would prefer to exploit mismatches in the half court. Though the Mavericks have been good at pushing the ball when they create turnovers, for the most part they’ve looked to slow the game down.
That’s not the Timberwolves. They’re 4th in the league in pace and will look to push the tempo. If the Mavericks can limit their own turnovers (1st in the league at 13 per game), they will control the tempo of the game and slow Minnesota down. Outside of three point shooting, this may be where the Mavericks can impose their will.
How to Watch
Tip-off is set for 7:30 CT, and can be watched on FSSW.