The Dallas Mavericks, fresh off the heels of a gritty, emotional win against the Orlando Magic, will head out on the road to face the Minnesota Timberwolves on Wednesday night. This is the fourth and final game of the season series with Minnesota, and the Mavericks are looking to even it up after winning their last matchup at home.
This will be a very tall task for Dallas, as almost every single one of their best players has been ruled out. Luka Doncic, Kyrie Irving, Dereck Lively II, Dante Exum, and Derrick Jones Jr. will all be unavailable against the Wolves. Essentially, the Mavericks are punting this game. The team decided they needed to manufacture some rest for Luka and allow their hurt players an extra day to nurse their injuries. Getting a win against the best team in the Western Conference feels improbable at best, but that doesn’t mean there aren’t reasons to tune in— here are three of them.
Jaden Hardy’s encore
Hardy had his best game of the season against Orlando, scoring an ultra-efficient 20 points, dishing out seven assists, and keeping the Mavericks afloat in the first half while the Magic were white-hot from three. More impressive than the shotmaking was the overall poise Hardy played with— he displayed a basketball IQ that we haven’t seen this year, making the right reads and decisions with the ball in his hands every time down. Now, with Luka, Kyrie, and Exum out, Hardy has a chance to prove that he’s taking real steps forward as a decision-maker. He’ll be asked to increase his usage big time in this game, and he needs to adopt the mindset that he had the other night and let things come to him. Hopefully, he can stack great performances on top of each other as he attempts to turn his season around and increase his value.
It’s become clear that Olivier Maxence-Prosper is a ways away from being an NBA player. Kidd clearly doesn’t trust him and his offense remains incredibly raw. But, in this game against Minnesota, he’s almost certain to get some serious burn. O-Max has been playing decently well in the G-League, and this game is a great opportunity for him to showcase the strides he’s made. I’d like to see him play under control, hit some open threes, and make plays on defense. Doing those things well is his path toward eventually earning a place in Kidd’s rotation.
Do you believe in miracles?
A shorthanded Dallas roster has matched up with the Wolves once before this season. On December 28th, in Minnesota, the Mavericks were without Doncic and Irving, and still played the Wolves tough for most of the game, losing by single digits. Mike Conley is also out for Minnesota, and he’s their calming, veteran presence who ties their offense together. Maybe Dallas can muck the game up enough to make things interesting. Maybe Josh Green and Tim Hardaway Jr. combine for 12 threes. Maybe Dwight Powell uses his goggles to channel Kareem-like superpowers. We certainly can’t rule it out. And somehow beating a great team like the Timberwolves with a severely undermanned roster could be the kind of win that galvanizes the squad and propels them on a run. Let’s have faith in our ragtag bunch as they attempt to do the impossible.
How to watch
The game will start at 7:00 PM CST and air on Bally Sports Southwest.