The Minnesota Timberwolves (8-9) travel to American Airlines Center to face the Dallas Mavericks (10-7) in the midst of a stretch that has seen them drop three of their last four, five of their last six, six of their last eight, and seven of their last ten.
Since the Wolves beat them 116-108 November 8th in Minneapolis, things had been headed in the opposite direction for the Mavericks. They’ve dropped 3 of their last four — two of those to the Denver Nuggets — the Mavs have still won six out of their last ten
Mavs probable starting lineup:
PG Shane Larkin
SG Monta Ellis
SF Shawn Marion
PF Dirk Nowitzki
C Samuel Dalembert
The Mavs have turned things over to their leading scorer Monta Ellis. At over 21 points a night, Monta has been the engine driving the surprisingly productive Mavericks offense (6th in the league at over 104 points a night). Monta penetrates and creates spot-up opportunities for Jose Calderon (doubtful this evening after spraining his ankle late in the 88-87 loss to the Atlanta Hawks last night) and Dirk.
DeJuan Blair leads the Mavs in rebounds in just 20 minutes a game off the bench. Marion, Dalembert and Blair do the heavy lifting for Dirk, Monta and Vince Carter’s perimeter attack. The Wolves defense should get tested again.
Wolves probable starting lineup:
PG Ricky Rubio
SG Kevin Martin
SF Corey Brewer
PF Kevin Love
C Nikola Pekovic
The schedule, the schedule, the schedule…
The Wolves struggles have been amplified by their schedule. Offensively, Rick Adelman has voiced concerns about the Wolves tendency to cut corners and not search for better options — Ricky’s 7 turnovers against Denver were pointed out as evidence of players trying to do too much. Which is fine — a rare day of practice the day after Thanksgiving gave the Wolves time to get some reps in.
Love’s been shooting just 36% the last five games. 15 rebounds and almost 4 assists, too, but the shooting has been the most valuable contribution missing recently. Hopefully the lighter schedule can take its toll in a good way.