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3 things to watch as the Mavericks take on the Timberwolves

Can Dallas strike back after getting beat 101-92 last Monday?

NBA: Dallas Mavericks at Minnesota Timberwolves Jesse Johnson-USA TODAY Sports

Last Monday the Mavericks crawled into the Target Center clinging to the shreds of their playoff dreams, and the Timberwolves, quite impolitely, trampled and burned them. The 101-92 loss gave Dallas sole possession of last place in the Western Conference and put a late season playoff run out of reach. Now, after thumping the Suns in Mexico City, the Mavs once again face Minnesota seeking revenge. Here are three keys to serving it up cold.

Don’t let the KAT out of the bag

Horrible puns aside, Dallas is going to have to find a way to trouble Karl Anthony Towns because last time he cut through our defense like a knife through butter. He was doing it all — shooting threes, driving hard, and getting to the line — resulting in a 20 point first quarter and finishing with 34 points, 11 rebounds, and four assists. The Mavs just could not find an answer, especially with Andrew Bogut playing what could only be described as a lackadaisical first half and leaving later with an injury.

I can’t imagine a world in which lining up Bogut and Dirk, the league’s least athletic front court, against physical specimens like Towns and Gorgui Djieng is going to end well for the Mavericks. It’s going to take some creative packages from Rick Carlisle and all-out team commitment to contain those bruisers, especially Towns, for 48 minutes.

Help Harry B

The only bright spot in Monday’s game was Harrison Barnes’ blazing performance. He dropped 30, going 4-5 from three; he even defended on Towns on a few possessions. Dirk’s inability to hang with the Wolves’ young studs left him with a minus-20 even though he scored 26 (!), and the rest of the Mavs’ scoring options were dead on arrival.

Wesley Matthews and Bogut had just two points each and the bench only managed 21 points total. To have a chance in this game, the Mavs will have to generate a more balanced offense. I’d like to see rim rollers like Salah Merji and Dwight Powell get more minutes, which brings me to....

Give Youth a Chance

As our distinguished columnist @Boweman55 noted the morning after, Dwight Powell, Justin Anderson, and Dorian Finney-Smith played a combined 19 minutes in Monday’s game, making it one of the most egregious examples of Carlisle’s veteran obsession in recent memory. Developing young players should be a priority for this team regardless, but playing such a young and physical opponent makes the energy they bring an even higher priority. I would expect that each of these young guys will get more time on the floor tonight.

How to watch

You can catch opening tip at 7:00pm Central on FSSW or FoxSportsGo. It’s also available via NBA League Pass.