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3 things to watch for when the Mavericks face the Timberwolves, again

Dallas faces a very familiar opponent

NBA: Dallas Mavericks at Minnesota Timberwolves Matt Krohn-USA TODAY Sports

The Dallas Mavericks (15-16) will dive into round two against the Minnesota Timberwolves (16-15) Wednesday night. The teams met on Monday, where the Mavericks were beaten handily. Now they’ll try to find a life raft and regain course as the team has succumbed to an injury bug.

Here is what we’ll be watching for in Wednesday’s tilt:

Finding some pride

This shouldn’t be something a team looks for 30 games into a season. And if Monday’s loss felt unusual we wouldn’t be talking about this. It isn’t a stat to be measured, it’s pure eye test.

The Mavericks just aren’t clicking. Not consistently at least. We’re beginning to see the frustrations of that spill out. Monday’s game featured a strange double whammy ejection of Luka Doncic and Jason Kidd. It was the third quarter and wasn’t a full blow out, but by that point the ship was already sinking.

I expect Doncic to come out swinging Wednesday. He’ll be facing a massive challenge with more and more teammates falling to injury. But we all know he’s capable of dragging this team to victory when he’s fully locked in. That’s where my focus will start in tonight’s game.

Battling length

This Timberwolves team is long and athletic. They were laser focused early in the game Monday on disrupting passing lanes out of their traps on Doncic. The scheme itself shouldn’t be surprising to the Mavericks. They often face a side intent on getting the ball out of Doncic’s hands, forcing role players to make uncomfortable plays.

The Mavericks coughed up the ball 16 times Monday, a few more than their season average. Minnesota scored 20 points off of Dallas’ mistakes, and they played with an energy the Mavericks could not match. The Timberwolves simply did not look like a team playing on the second night of a back-to-back, and their athleticism led the way.

Again, Doncic will have fewer shooters to kick to Wednesday night. Look for the ways the Mavericks try to combat that disadvantage.

Playing start to finish

Piggybacking off above, the real trouble struck in the second quarter Monday night, when they managed just 14 points.

There was a lot of settling for contested shots, what felt like 25 shot clock violations, and as the shot chart above indicates no effort to get different looks. Some of this was Minnesota’s defense and effort, the rest was the Mavericks falling flat.

The Mavericks — who were up 30-21 at the end of the first quarter — scored 92 points in the first, third, and fourth quarters combined. They need to find some consistency, and cannot afford to have that level of drop-off.

How to watch

Tip-off is set for 7:00 pm CST, and can be watched on Bally Sports SouthWest and the Bally Sports app.