The Dallas Mavericks (15-15) stay out on the road to play the Minnesota Timberwolves (15-15) in a two game baseball series set of games. The Mavericks face off against the Wolves on both Monday and Wednesday night, then head to Houston Friday even before their Christmas Day game against the Los Angeles Lakers.
Both the Mavericks and Wolves have underperformed this season relative to expectations. While Dallas is coming off a Western Conference Finals trip, the Wolves sold the farm to trade for center Rudy Gobert with hopes of making a jump in the competitive Western Conference.
Here’s some thoughts as we wait for game time Monday evening:
Who will actually play for the Mavericks?
The Sunday injury update for the Mavericks was pretty ridiculous. Davis Bertans is questionable with an illness, Luka Doncic is questionable with a quad strain, Tim Hardaway Jr. Is questionable with all illness, and Dwight Powell is questionable with a thigh contusion. Josh Green remains out with his elbow sprain and Maxi Kleber remains out with his hamstring injury.
It’s probably reasonable to expect Luka to play, though he did not travel with the team to Cleveland. The illness issues of Bertans and Hardaway are harder to predict though and Powell’s injury looked very unpleasant.
Once again, it seems the line ups for the Mavericks might get very fluid.
Cardiac Kemba rides again
Kemba Walker’s 42 minutes came in a game with Dallas in dire need of bodies. The last time he played that many minutes happened nearly a year ago, on December 23, 2021 in a Knicks loss to the Wizards. For the next several games after that, Walker shot the ball poorly. After so much time off, it’s unfair of anyone to expect repeated great performances from Walker, but perhaps if Luka Doncic plays along with Spencer Dinwiddie, he can fill the secondary playmaker role the Mavericks so desperately need.
Is Christian Wood going to start?
Wood’s notched two starts this year, each without Luka Doncic playing. Noted stubborn man and head coach Jason Kidd did seem open to starting Wood following his good game against the Cavaliers. It’s really one of those things that should just happen already. Look at these stats from Matt Moore of the Action Network.
The Mavericks are better in net rating when Wood is next to Luka instead of Luka without Wood. They're better on *defense* when Wood plays next to Luka than when Luka plays without him.— Hardwood Paroxysm (@HPbasketball) December 18, 2022
This is not about correlation or about what Wood does or does not do. It's what's happening. pic.twitter.com/vKZY5YU9mm
Wood-Luka is working. It can drive you nuts, it can seem unsustainable, but Dallas has to figure out how to get through the regular season with this roster and then figure out playoffs when they get there.— Hardwood Paroxysm (@HPbasketball) December 18, 2022
Wood and Luka work together. It’s true that the special sauce is Josh Green also getting minutes, but the Mavericks need a spark and getting off on a good start would really help the Mavericks, particularly with how badly they’ve struggled on the road.
How to watch
This game will be on Bally Sports SouthWest at 7:00 pm CST.