Preview: Minnesota Timberwolves (4-2) vs Dallas Mavericks (4-3)


Fresh off the latest sign of the apocalypse their 101-97 loss to the Charlotte Bobcats, the Mavs host the Wolves Monday night. Gunning their way to early season victories over the Los Angeles Lakers, Toronto Raptors and Portland Trail Blazers — as well as a split with the Bobs, they’re leading the league in scoring, at 104.7 a game. Newly acquired, semi-former-Wolf, OJ Mayo is leading the way with 21.9 a game.

Mavericks probable starting lineup:

PG Darren Collison

SG OJ Mayo

SF Jae Crowder

PF Elton Brand

C Brandon Wright

Free to get all the touches he wants with Dirk Nowitzki out, and this year no longer competing for them with Rudy Gay, Zach Randolph, Mike Conley or Marc Gasol — Mayo has shot over 45% of his shots from 3 (including two games with 10 attempts). So far things have worked out. He’s been unconscious and made 60% of them.

Another refugee in the Mavs camp this year is Collison. He is tasked with distributing to such ball stoppers as Mayo, Vince Carter and Chris Kaman and so far has been a nice surprise — resembling his New Orleans self more than his days Indiana — at over 7 assists per game.

Wolves probable starting lineup:

PG Luke Ridnour

SG Alexey Shved

SF Andrei Kirilenko

PF Derrick Williams

C Nikola Pekovic

Whether Brandon Roy or JJ Barea return tonight or not, the cursed starting shooting guard position is sure to feature more Shved than ever. The loss of Chase Budinger stings as he was starting to inflict some real damage in coach Rick Adelman’s offense. The silver lining is that he will not miss the entire season, although we have yet to learn how severe the injury was and how long his rehab will be.

The Mavs have freshly signed big man Troy Murphy to add to their barrage of bigs (Kaman, Brand and Wright) to throw at Pek. How Pek deals with the (even more) added attention will be critical.

Cross match-ups between (Wolves draft board fan-favorite) Crowder and Kirilenko could be favorable, with Carter coming off the bench.

After grinding it out inside with Indiana and Chicago, the Wolves will have to stretch their defense to stop the threes from raining. Short-manned as ever, it should be a good test for the Timberwolves.

Tags: Alexey Shved Andrei Kirilenko Brandon Roy Chase Budinger Dallas Mavericks Elton Brand Feature Featured JJ Barea Minnesota Timberwolves Nikola Pekovic O.j. Mayo Popular Troy Murphy