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Game Thread: Wolves at Mavericks

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As the Wolves travel to Dallas to take on the Mavericks, six of their Western Conference competitors hit the floor elsewhere around the Association.

NBA: Dallas Mavericks at Minnesota Timberwolves Brad Rempel-USA TODAY Sports

Wolves at Mavericks
7:30 pm CST
Fox Sports North

The Mavericks enter tonight’s matchup 3-7 in their last ten games and just 10-27 since the New Year. But they’re no pushovers, 19 of those 27 losses in 2018 have been by single digits, a further 10 have been decided by five points of fewer. And over that period, they’ve toppled the Nuggets, Pacers, Lakers, Wizards and Hornets.

The Mavs – like the Wolves – boast a mixture of youth and experience in their starting lineup; rookie Dennis Smith Jr. and sophomore Dorian Finney-Smith are surrounded by Harrison Barnes, Dirk Nowitzki and Dwight Powell. They’ll likely play eight more guys off the bench, all of whom have been drafted since 2013 and are fighting for their NBA futures.

The Wolves look to take down the Mavs having gone 7-7 since losing Jimmy Butler to a knee injury, and 5-5 in their last 10. More recently, they were part-one of the Memphis Grizzlies’ two-game winning streak and Karl-Anthony Towns set a franchise record with 56 points in their win over the Atlanta Hawks on Wednesday night.

After the San Antonio Spurs beat the Oklahoma City Thunder, 103-99, in San Antonio last night, the 7th places Wolves moved just one game behind both teams.

from espn.com

13 years later, Wolves fans finally have selfish reasons to watch the games of competitors around the conference. And tonight, there’s plenty to see:

At 7:00pm CST, the Thunder play the second night of a back-to-back at home against the Denver Nuggets. The Thunder are 7-3 in their last ten, but are coming off of dispiriting losses to the Spurs and Portland Trail Blazers. The Nuggets are 5-5 in their last ten and 9-7 since the return of all-star power forward Paul Millsap; they remain two games behind the eighth seed Utah Jazz.

Also at 7:00pm CST, the Cleveland Cavaliers host the New Orleans Pelicans on ESPN. The Cavs are 7-3 over their last 10 as LeBron leads a late season charge, but the Pelicans are an impressive 21-16 away from New Orleans; this should be a great match-up. The Pelicans are just half of a game ahead of the Wolves in the standings. A loss tonight, combined with a Wolves victory, would vault the Wolves at least one spot higher.

At 8:00pm CST, the Jazz host the Grizzlies. The mighty Grizz have taken down the Wolves and Trail Blazers over their last two games, it’s only fair that they continue that trend in Utah tonight. But, despite having lost three of their last five, the Jazz are still a daunting 24-5 since January 24th. I’m not getting my hopes up.

And as a night-cap, the Trail Blazers host the Los Angeles Clippers at 9:30pm CST on ESPN. Despite the aforementioned loss to the Grizzlies, the surging Blazers are 15-3 over their last 18 games, the only other losses coming to the Boston Celtics and Houston Rockets. The Clipper are just one game behind the Jazz for the final playoff spot.

Enjoy a fun night of NBA basketball.

Expected Lineups for Wolves at Mavs:

Wolves

Jeff Teague
Andrew Wiggins
Nemanja Bjelica
Taj Gibson
Karl-Anthony Towns

Mavs

Dennis Smith Jr
Dorian Finney-Smith
Harrison Barnes
Dirk Nowitzki
Dwight Powell