Minnesota Timberwolves (34-43) at Dallas Mavericks (31-46)
Hope is a funny thing. The Dallas Mavericks fans are looking towards a bright future with their team. The wins may not be piling up this season, but they have rookie phenom Luka Doncic, oodles of cap space, and a potential companion star in Kristaps Porzingis. They have been able to compete for most of the season, largely on the back of Doncic’s brilliance, and even though they are faltering down the stretch, the team is still able to notch a few big wins.
The Wolves used to have that hope. In Karl-Anthony Towns’ first rookie season and his second, the team may not have always been playing competitive basketball, but it was hard not to be excited about the potential for the team. After all, we had a young phenom, oodles of cap space, and a couple of potential companion stars. What could go wrong?
Well, we forgot we were talking about the Minnesota Timberwolves for one. That cap space dissipated as quickly as it appeared and that companion star broke the team in half.
Now, as the Wolves drag themselves to the finish line of this dreadful season, they get to face off against hope.
There is nothing much new to say in these previews. The Wolves defensive issues look like they are here to stay for the remainder of the season. The Wolves post-all star break defensive rating is an impressive league-worst 116.9, which is a full 6 points worse than when Sam Mitchell simply let the Wolves play pick-up in 2015-2016 after the All-Star game. Offensive ratings are up league-wide of course, but it’s fair to say this Wolves team is much worse at defense than the one that got Mitchell fired.
Karl-Anthony Towns should dominate tonight. He will likely be guarded by Dwight Powell and Salah Mejri, which last time I check were not candidates for an All-NBA spot. But it is just as likely that Towns gets himself into foul trouble and we see a continuation of the Gorgui Dieng renaissance.
The Wolves journeyman wings will be largely matchup up against other NBA journeyman. Someone will have to guard Luka Doncic, but as long as the Wolves leave him wide-open from beyond the three-point line, they can at least be consistent with their typical play.
Tyus Jones has an interesting matchup against his all-hustle counterpart in Jalen Brunson. Jones has been stringing a few good games together and it would be great for his long-term prospects for that to continue tonight.
Overall, we can just hope for another solid Wolves win, some hopey-changey language around how Ryan Saunders’ league-worst defense is the wave of the future, and moving down the lottery rankings.
Projected Starting Lineups
Regardless of all the tanking and nihilism, this is very likely the last time many of us will see Dirk Nowitzki play. Been an incredible run.