Preview: Timberwolves (4-2) at Mavericks (4-3); Battle of banged-up teams as Mavs host T-Wolves
Earl K. Sneed previews the short-handed Dallas Mavericks' showdown against the equally-injured Minnesota Timberwolves Monday, as the Mavs try to end a two-game skid back on their home floor.
Preview: Timberwolves (4-2) at Mavericks (4-3)
Battle of banged-up teams as Mavs host T-Wolves
DALLAS — With injuries an issue all season long, the Dallas Mavericks will face a virtual mirror image of themselves Monday night.
Set to square off at the American Airlines Center, the Mavericks and Minnesota Timberwolves are both feeling the sting of injuries to start the 2012-13 season.
Already playing without 11-time All-Star power forward Dirk Nowitzki since his arthroscopic knee surgery on Oct. 19, the Mavericks (4-3) didn’t let the absence of their go-to player slow them down to start the year, winning four of their first five games. But, with small forward and four-time All-Star Shawn Marion recently sidelined for the last three games due to a sprained left MCL, the Mavs now lack their best scorer and best perimeter defender to the dismay of coach Rick Carlisle.
And after falling in disappointing fashions in New York and Charlotte over the weekend, the Mavs still will not welcome Marion back Monday night, after the versatile forward missed Monday's morning shootaround.
“Well, it will affect us a lot. I mean, [Marion] is really our best player right now with Dirk out, and now we’ve got our two best players out,” Carlisle confessed. “So, it’s gonna be challenging and we’ve just gotta step it up and do it collectively with high intensity and playing our game. Not easy.”
Still, as Minnesota plays on without All-Star big man Kevin Love (broken hand) and budding young point guard Ricky Rubio (torn ACL), neither team is expected to be at full strength as the squads tangle for early-season Western Conference bragging rights.
The Timberwolves (4-2) may also be without former Mav J.J. Barea, who has missed the team’s last two contests with a sprained foot. Meanwhile, the Mavericks will try to continue their dominance on their home floor, after sprinting to a 3-0 homestand last week before dropping the back-to-back in New York and Charlotte.
Led by sharpshooter O.J. Mayo, who leads the NBA with 28 made 3-pointers and has scored at least 22 points in five straight games, the Mavericks sprinted through the three games on their home floor. In do so, the Mavs scored in triple digits all three outings for an average of 116.3 points, shooting a staggering 56.2 percent from the field as a team and 51.5 percent from 3-point range.
But, after falling to ex-Mavericks Jason Kidd and Tyson Chandler in New York with a 104-94 defeat, the weekend got worse, losing for the first time ever to the Bobcats after 16 straight wins over the young Charlotte franchise before a 101-97 overtime disappointment.
And with late-game turnovers and miscues an issue in both losses on the road, Carlisle admits that without the leadership of Nowitzki and Marion the Mavs have lacked the ability to close out games down the stretch.
“This team has a lot to learn about winning. That’s where we’re at. And this is a very painful lesson,” the coach said of his mixture of young and seasoned veterans.
"We just made some poor decisions down the stretch when it got up to four points," Mayo added after the loss in Charlotte when the Mavs went ahead by four on his two free throws with 26.6 seconds left in regulation. "We made a turnover, they made a hustle play, made another hustle play with an offensive rebound off a free throw, and we just handed them a win that we had pretty much in the bag. All we had to do was play solid and finish off the game with some effort."
The Mavs will try to display better effort for 48 minutes back on their home floor Monday night, however, looking to cure their main ailment of late: uncharacteristic turnovers.
After a combined 39 giveaways left the Mavs looking stagnant on offense, the team will once again try to solve their turnover-prone play from the preseason. More importantly, they hope to have the problem solved before a tough-minded Minnesota team comes to town, after it also got off to a 4-1 start before seeing its three-game winning streak snapped Saturday night in an 87-80 loss at Chicago.
Note: The Mavs return home for two home games, welcoming in the Minnesota Timberwolves on Monday night. The game will air locally at 7:30 p.m. CT on Fox Sports Southwest. Tickets for the game remain available and can be purchased by calling (214) 747-6287 or by visiting Mavs.com.
The team then will host the Washington Wizards on Wednesday night. That game will also air locally at 7:30 p.m. CT on Fox Sports Southwest. Tickets for the game remain available and can be purchased by calling (214) 747-6287 or by visiting Mavs.com.