Preview: Dallas Mavericks (11-12) @ Minnesota Timberwolves (11-9)

Dallas lost to the Toronto Raptors last night 95-74 in Toronto to fall to 10th in the Western Conference standings, but a half game back of 8th place Utah.

O.J. Mayo had a rough night shooting 2-8 FG, finishing with 10 points and six turnovers, but is still at 23 points and 5 rebounds on 53% shooting over his last 5, with 51% from 3. So he’s been a little hot.

PG Derek Fisher

SG O.J. Mayo

SF Dahntay Jones

PF Shawn Marion

C Chris Kaman

I can’t help but think this lineup is a little hinky. The Mavs have used it the last four games, swapping Elton Brand for Kaman. Fish starts, but Collison plays around 30 minutes a game and averages close to 3 turnovers. Vince Carter, Collison and Brandon Wright come off the bench to add scoring, but Dirk Nowitzki is more than missed by that starting lineup. Marion has put up about 13 points, 10 rebounds and a steal on 50% shooting, but this lineup is all about Mayo chucking shots up and playing fast. Can’t help but think of all the cap money they will spend and wonder when they’ll swing.

PG Luke Ridnour

SG Alexey Shved

SF Andrei Kirilenko

PF Kevin Love

C Nikola Pekovic

Pek put to rest any doubts about his ankle en route to scoring 31 points in New Orleans last night. Running out in front of the break and finishing strong around the hoop all night long finishing the night 14-18 from the field.

Shved played an efficient 35 minutes, scoring 13 points on 5-8 shooting (3 of 4 from 3) and dishing out 8 assists and only 2 turnovers, plus 2 steals. Smashingly efficient debut, by all accounts. If only Austin Rivers wouldn’t have torched him for a career night of 27 points on 9 of 14 shooting, I’d feel much better about his prospects against Mayo.

Love bruised his hand late against the Hornets last night and is questionable to play. Derrick Williams could play in his stead. Josh Howard was lost in the Hornets game, as well, with a hyperextended knee. He is day-to-day. So, the injury bug continues to bite.

However, all of this is secondary to the real main event of the evening: Ricky Rubio has been cleared to make his season debut following the rehab of the ACL and MCL tears that ended his rookie season last year. There are to be minute restrictions — he’ll come off the bench for the time being — but his arrival, with the Wolves 2 games over .500 puts the Wolves in position to expand their offensive efficiency, tighten up their defense even more just as the schedule starts to get rough.

It’s like Christmas for basketball fans. Enjoy.

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Tags: Alexey Shved Kevin Love Minnesota Timberwolves O.j. Mayo Ricky Christmas Ricky Rubio

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