Scouting Report: Wolves (8-9) at Mavericks (10-7) | Nov. 30, 2013

Scouting Report: Wolves (8-9) at Mavericks (10-7) | Nov. 30, 2013


Timberwolves at Mavericks | 7:30 PM — American Airlines Center

Where to Watch: Fox Sports North

Where to Listen: 830 WCCO-AM

If it seems like the Minnesota Timberwolves are battling Western Conference playoff contenders every night, that’s because, well, they pretty much are.

At 10-7, the Mavericks are in the playoff hunt and currently sit in seventh place in the West. The Wolves, despite starting 3-0, have slipped as of late and have lost five of their last six games. Head coach Rick Adelman hopes that the addition of Luc Mbah a Moute can help stretch a second unit that hasn’t had much consistency at all.

No, their schedule hasn’t done them any favors (games against OKC, Golden State, Denver, Dallas, Clippers… And five back-to-backs), but it’s still important for the Wolves to keep their heads above water and survive this tough November run. A win on Saturday night would put them at .500 and they’ll need it as their schedule doesn’t get any easier (OKC, San Antonio and Miami in the next week).

Many didn’t think that the Dallas Mavericks would be competitive this season, especially after missing out on the Dwight Howard and Deron Williams sweepstakes. But the additions of Jose Calderon and Monta Ellis have been effective and power forward Dirk Nowitizki, despite being 35, is still one of the league’s best players.

It’s still early, but another win over the Mavericks could give the Wolves some tie-breaker flexibility later in the season.

Last Meeting

The two teams last matched up on Nov. 8 and Minnesota came away with a 116-108 win at the Target Center. The two Kevins led Minnesota with 32 points each. Love added 15 rebounds and eight assists, while Martin was 3-of-5 from the 3-point line.

Wing Corey Brewer added 17 points, while Nikola Pekovic added 15.

The Mavericks were led by the guard-duo of Calderon and Ellis. Calderon scored 21 points and dished out a team-high seven assists, while Ellis finished with 23. Nowitzki finished with 14 points, while Shawn Marion and Jae Crowder scored 10 each.

The Wolves were 2-2 in four matchups against Dallas last season.

This Week’s Results

The Wolves are coming off of a tough 117-110 loss to the Denver Nuggets on Wednesday night at the Target Center. The Wolves got within one late in the fourth, but they weren’t able to close things out. Martin led Minnesota with 29 points and hit all 11 of his free throws. Pekovic, Love and Rubio all had double-doubles. Pek finished with 21 points and 10 rebounds. Love had 19 points and 15 rebounds, while Rubio scored 17 points to go along with 11 assists.

Minnesota struggled from behind the 3-point line, going 5-for-20.

Previous to that, the Wolves lost two road games to the Houston Rockets and the Indiana Pacers.

Dallas is coming off a heart-breaker against the Hawks last night. They fell to the Hawks in Atlanta after Al Horford hit his game-winner with 4.2 seconds left, lifting the Hawks 88-87. Nowitzki and Jose Calderon each had 16 points to lead the Mavs, while Shawn Marion had 15 and Monta Ellis had 12. After winning four straight and six of seven, Dallas has currently lost three of four. They are, however, 8-1 at home.

The Mavericks went into that game after beating the Warriors 103-99 on Wednesday.

What To Watch: Kevin Love vs. Dirk Nowitzki

These two power forwards are among the league’s best at the position and play pretty similar games. They both rely more on their outside games than banging inside. Love, though, is a much better rebounder. Love is having a career year, averaging 24.3 points (career high), 13.3 rebounds (1st in NBA) and 4.3 assists (career high) per game. If the Wolves can get back into the Western Conference playoff picture, Love will be considered as an MVP candidate.

Nowitzki isn’t quite the scoring threat he used to be, but he’s a threat nonetheless. The tandem of Nowitzki and Ellis has proved to be an effective one. If Ellis doesn’t play, however, Nowitzki will get plenty of looks. Last season, Dirk saw his points per game drop to 17.3, the lowest it’s been since his rookie season in 1998-99. A lot of that has to do with the fact that he was shooting the ball just 13.7 times per game, the lowest since 1999-2000. This season, Nowitzki, for whatever reason, is seeing more looks and taking advantage of them. He’s averaging 15 shots per game (making 47.9 percent of them) and 20.8 points per game.

Don’t be surprised if the game ends up coming down to individual runs from these two offensive-minded forwards.

Injury Report

The Wolves will be without wing Chase Budinger (knee) and center Ronny Turiaf (elbow). When Flip Saunders addressed the media on Tuesday, he said that he expects a possible return in two to three weeks. For Dallas, Monta Ellis has been dealing with a sore back and a bad ankle, but he did play on Friday night against the Hawks. Forward Brandan Wright is out with a shoulder injury.

Probable Starters

  Timberwolves Mavericks
PG Ricky Rubio Jose Calderon
SG Kevin Martin Monta Ellis
SF Corey Brewer Shawn Marion
PF Kevin Love Dirk Nowitzki
C Nikola Pekovic Samuel Dalembert


For more news and notes on the team follow the Minnesota Timberwolves and Mark Remme on Twitter.