Scouting Report: Wolves at Mavericks

Scouting Report: Wolves at Mavericks

Wolves (7-10) at Mavericks (11-7) - 7:30 PM American Airlines Center
Where to Watch: Fox Sports North
Where to Listen: 830 AM WCCO

*Get your questions on the radio airwaves during halftime! Just tweet questions to @WolvesRadio and listen to the halftime show hosted by John Focke on WCCO 830 AM.

The Minnesota Timberwolves got the better of the Dallas Mavericks in their last meeting—topping the defending champions 99-82—but a lot has transpired in Dallas since that New Years Day matchup.

At the time, the Mavericks were reeling at 1-4 and trying to find their rhythm. As the Wolves head south for a 7:30 p.m. tipoff tonight at American Airlines Center, the Mavs are winners of eight of their last 10 and are tied for first in the Southwest Division. They have won their last seven games at home.

The Timberwolves enter tonight’s matchup having lost two straight but are winners of three of their past five contests. They are 3-4 on the road, including a dazzling come-from-behind win at the Clippers on Friday night.

Both teams banged up

Much has been reported on the Timberwolves injury front, as Minnesota dressed just nine players in their last game against Houston on Friday. Forward Wes Johnson is listed as questionable for tonight’s matchup against Dallas—he missed Monday’s game with flu-like symptoms. Guard JJ Barea (ankle), guard/forward Martell Webster (back) and center Brad Miller (knee) are listed as doubtful, and coach Rick Adelman said on Tuesday he doesn’t expect any of those three to play tonight. Forward Michael Beasley (foot) did not make the trip.

Dallas has played without forward Dirk Nowitzki for the past two games to work on his conditioning and let his sore right knee rest. But the Mavericks have won both contests in his absence and could be going for a third tonight. Nowitzki is averaging 17.5 points per game this season and scored 21 points on 9-of-20 shooting against the Wolves on Jan. 1.

Key matchup: Small forward

Wolves rookie Derrick Williams started at small forward on Monday in place of Johnson, and Williams scored 11 points on 3-of-9 shooting to go along with seven rebounds. But if Johnson isn’t able to play again tonight, the Wolves will again be shorthanded at the small forward position and will be forced to get creative in who transitions into that slot while Williams is on the bench. Whoever is on the court will be facing Shawn Marion, who has been a big part of Dallas’ recent success. He’s averaging 19.3 points over his past four contests and put up a season high 29 points on Monday against Phoenix. He has two double-doubles in points and rebounds in that span.

Rubio’s passing niche

Rookie guard Ricky Rubio continues to impress from the point guard position. In his past two games he has recorded 11 and 12 assists, respectively, giving him back-to-back games in double-digits for the first time in his career. He is currently sixth in the league at 8.5 assists per game and is fourth with 145 total assists. Tonight he will again face Jason Kidd, who over his 18 year career has averaged 9.1 assists per night.

No rest in sight

The Timberwolves will not have back-to-back off days until the All-Star Break in late February, and this week, Minnesota has four games spaced apart by a single off day. After tonight’s contest the Wolves will return home for a game against co-Southwest Division leader San Antonio, then will face the Los Angeles Lakers on Sunday at Target Center.

You can become a part of the Wolves Radio Network by Howling at the Wolves during halftime! Just tweet questions to @WolvesRadio or @JWFocke and Studio Host John Focke and Coach Steve Brown will answer them on 830 WCCO and the Wolves Radio Network.
For more news and notes on the team follow the Minnesota Timberwolves and Mark Remme on Twitter.