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Timberwolves at Mavericks: Game #44

The Wolves get a chance to get last night's bad taste out of their mouths when taking on the Mavs in Dallas in the second game of a back to back.

Jesse Johnson-USA TODAY Sports

Wolves at Mavericks
7:30 pm CST
FS North

The Wolves get right back at it after last night's debacle with a game in Dallas against the once again remarkably competitive Mavericks. The Mavs sit at 24-19, good for 5th in the Western Conference. They are in the middle of the pack both offensively and defensively, and in fact have been outscored on the season despite their winning record.

The Mavs beat the Wolves in Minneapolis 10 days ago, and since then their schedule has been rough: games against the Cavs, Thunder, Bulls, Spurs and Celtics, but they have managed to win two of those five and are probably looking at tonight as something of a respite. Hopefully the Wolves can provide some stiff competition and make this a good ball game. In the first meeting, the Wolves tried to mount a 4th quarter comeback after being behind double digits, but wound up losing 93-87. It was a fairly common story with the Wolves starters all finishing net plus, but unable to overcome a poor bench performance. (This was the game Zach LaVine only played 8 minutes after Mitchell got exasperated and benched him).

The Mavs are still led by the ageless Dirk Nowitzki, who is averaging nearly 18 points in 31 minutes a game. Unfortunately we won't get to see the two aging lions go up against each other again tonight as Kevin Garnett will sit on the second night of a back to back. And, I have just found out, Dirk will also not play tonight due to injury.

They shoot the 4th highest number of 3s in the league, though they only make 34% of them. Still, they have several players who are dangerous beyond the arc. Other than Nowitzki, Wesley Matthews, Deron Williams, Chandler Parsons, JJ Barea, and Devin Harris all take a good number of threes and all are capable of getting hot in any ball game.

The acquisition of Zaza Pachulia to play center has shored up what many expected to be a porous defense to a point where it's essentially league average. They do a reasonable job limiting easy shots for their opponents, but still can be scored upon.

In fact, one of the interesting things about looking at the Mavs' team stats is that they are more or less average in almost all categories. Nothing particularly stands out as a huge strength or weakness, which in part a testament to Rick Carlisle and his ability to paper over deficiencies. Having Dirk also helps, as does a deep bench that Carlisle uses pretty liberally. Nobody averages more than 32.7 minutes (Matthews).

Things don't get any easier for the Wolves after this one, with games against the Grizzlies, Cavs, and Thunder following this one. They desperately need to find some consistency and show some improvement as they play through the 2nd half of the season. Hopefully that starts tonight.

Expected lineups


Deron Williams
Wesley Matthews
Chandler Parsons
Dirk Nowitzki
Zaza Pachulia


Ricky Rubio
Andrew Wiggins
Tayshaun Prince
Karl-Anthony Towns
Nikola Pekovic

Our blogging buddies are over at Mavs Moneyball. Be excellent.

No pics gifs links to illegal streams.

Enjoy the game. Chat here. Go Wolves.