Credit: Jerome Miron-USA TODAY Sports

Dallas Mavericks @ Minnesota Timberwolves

Dec 30th @ 7pm CT

The Dallas Mavericks (17-13) look to get their second straight win on the road as they prepare to face the Minnesota Timberwolves (15-15).

The Mavericks are coming off a 22 point win over the Chicago Bulls to improve their road record to 6-9.  Vince Carter and Dirk Nowitzki each contributed 18 points and Monta Ellis lead the way with 22.

This will be the third game of the season series between these two teams with the Wolves winning the previous two games.

The Opponent

The Wolves are currently on a two game win streak as they’ve taken down the Washington Wizard and Milwaukee Bucks and have won 3 of 5 overall.  During this stretch star power forward Kevin Love has been averaging 31.4 points, 14.6 rebounds, and shooting 56% from the field and 42% from 3.  Center Nikola Pekovic has been putting up 24.6 points and 11.4 rebounds.

On the season Love is averaging 26.4 points and leads the league with 13.8 rebounds. Pekovic has been putting up 17.5 points and 9 rebounds.

Free agent signee shooting guard Kevin Martin has found success with coach Rick Adelman again, as he’s second on the team in scoring with 19.9 ppg.

Ricky Rubio once again is amongst the league leaders in steals (2nd) as he’s averaging 2.8 per game. He’s also adding 8.9 points and 8.1 assists a game.

The Wolves are second in the NBA in offensive rebound with 14.1 rebounds a game and second in total rebounds with 46.2 rebounds.

They also are second in the NBA in scoring as they average 106.4 points a game.

Though they have Love (38.6%) and Martin (40.1%) shooting well from 3, they as a team rank only 24th in the NBA as they shoot 33.8%.

Minnesota allows 102.3 points a game, which is (.1) more than the Mavericks.

The Wolves also rank last in the NBA in opponent field goal percentage as they allow their opponents to shoot 47.3% overall.

9-4 at home.

Notes

The Wolves currently sit at 9th place in the West, two games behind the Dallas Mavericks.

In the two previous games of this series Love has out dueled Nowitzki. Love has put up 26.5 points and 13 rebounds compared to Nowitzki’s 18.5 and 4.

The Wolves won the rebounding battle in both games (88-77).

The Mavericks have had no answer for Martin as he’s put up 27 and 32 points in the two games.

Pekovic has also averaged 18 points in the two match ups.

Ellis has led the Mavericks in both games as he’s averaged 24.5 points.

Jose Calderon put up 21 points in the first game but was out for the second game due to injury.

Brandan Wright did not participate in either game (shoulder).

Vince Carter has averaged 17 points the last 4 games off of the bench for the Mavericks.

 

Emphasis

The Mavericks must find a way to slow down the Timberwolves.  In the first two match ups the Wolves have put up 112 and 116 points.

As we’ve seen the Mavericks have had trouble containing Love, Pekovic, and Martin. It won’t be a surprise to see Shawn Marion matched onto Martin this game due to the trouble Ellis has had matching up with his size.

Containing the defensive glass with be key as Pekovic and Love have combined for 18 offensive rebounds in the two games.

This will also be Wright’s first true test to matchup with physical bigs. His ability to play against physical bigs will be key. If he is able to somewhat hold his ground and rebound then that will be huge for the Mavericks.  The Mavericks need him on the court due to his offensive versatility.

Expect a much better showing from Nowitzki, who is putting up 22.9 points during the month of December and shooting 50%.

Keeping Rubio out of the key.  There may not be a better passer in the league than Rubio.  Just as it is important to keep him out for dishing it to open shooters, it’s just as important to keep him out so that the Mav’s bigs can keep a body on Love and Pekovic to keep them off of the boards.

Key Match-ups

  • Dirk vs Love. These two big men can score any where on the court. The winner of this matchup may decide the game
  • Ellis vs Martin. Both have revitalized their careers with new teams. Both second on their team in scoring.
  • Calderon vs Rubio.  These Spanish guards get overlooked due to other pieces on the team but have been vital to each team’s success.

This game has some great scorers and match ups.  Both teams have struggled to defend, both teams have All-Star power forwards, pass first point guards, and great scorers.  This game will be won by which team can defend better than the other.  Both rank bottom tier in the league in opponent scoring.

The Mavericks showed a great defensive effort against the Bulls and constantly talk about improving the team’s defense, well, this is a great test to see how well this Mav’s defense can actually be.

Just as the Mavericks were happy to get a win leading into Christmas, they’ll be just as happy to start the New Year on a two game winning streak.

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Tags: Dallas Mavericks Dirk Nowitzki Kevin Love Minnesota Timberwolves

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