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Mavericks vs. Timberwolves Preview: 3 things to watch for as Dallas takes on Minnesota

The Mavericks are back at it again Monday.

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

The Dallas Mavericks are back home at the American Airlines Center to take on the Minnesota Timberwolves. Dallas is hoping to bounce back from a loss to the Sacramento Kings on Saturday.

The Mavericks are 31-27, fourth in the Western Conference, and 19-9 at home this season. The Timberwolves are 30-29, eighth in the West, and 10-17 on the road.

This is the third meeting between the teams this season. Dallas won the last matchup 104-99, while Minnesota took the first game 116-106.

The Mavericks will be without Davis Bertans (calf), Maxi Kleber (hamstring), and Tim Hardaway Jr. (hamstring). The Timberwolves are missing Karl-Anthony Towns (calf).

Here are three things to watch for during the game:

The rebound battle will be key

Neither team is good at rebounding. The Mavericks are last in the league in rebounds per game. The Timberwolves aren’t much better, ranking 27th. Rudy Gobert is listed as day-to-day as of this writing, so that will definitely have some affect. But the Mavericks need to crash the boards as aggressively as possible, and make the Timberwolves pay for being passive on the glass.

Force the Timberwolves to make mistakes

Minnesota is one of the sloppiest teams in the NBA. They live to turn the ball over. They’re currently committing the third-most turnovers in the league, 15.2 per game. As usual, the Mavericks take care of the ball. If they stay in character, this will give them a decisive advantage over the Timberwolves. Minnesota isn’t good enough to beat Dallas on their own. The Mavericks will have to make mistakes in order to lose this game, and taking care of the ball is step one to making sure that doesn’t happen.

Live at the free throw line

The Timberwolves give up the second-most free throw attempts in the NBA, 26.1 per game. Dallas has two players built to get to the charity stripe in Luka Doncic and Kyrie Irving. The Mavericks need to attack the rim and force the Timberwolves to play defense without fouling. Then they need to actually make those free throws, something we all know is iffy when it comes to the Mavericks.

How to watch

The game can be seen on Bally Sports+ or NBA League Pass.