The Dallas Mavericks (4-3) will host the Minnesota Timberwolves (4-2). The Wolves have revamped their roster over the offseason. Adding pieces such as Brandon Roy, Andrei Kirilenko, Chase Budinger and Alexey Shved. Minnesota has needed each and every one of those new players as they’ve had to start the season without their stars. Kevin Love has been out to start the season due to a a fracture of the third and fourth metacarpals in his right hand on 10/17. Ricky Rubio is recovering from surgery to repair a torn ACL and a torn MCL in his left knee. The injury was suffered on 3/9. He will be sidelined indefinitely.
It was announced Sunday evening that Budinger will undergo surgery this week after tearing the lateral meniscus in his left knee on Saturday night. The team will not announce a recovery timeline until after Budinger’s surgery.
Here are some notes for the matchup against the Timberwolves.
Despite losing 2-of-3 to Minnesota in 2011-12, the Mavericks have still won 19 of the last 22 regular-season meetings with the Timberwolves. The Timberwolves snapped a five-game losing streak against the Mavericks with a 99-82 win at Minnesota on 1/1/12. On 1/1/12, Nowitzki became the sixth player in NBA history to amass 1,000 points against the Timberwolves franchise (joining Karl Malone, Hakeem Olajuwon, Shaquille O’Neal, David Robinson and Kobe Bryant). The Mavericks have won 10-of-12 in Dallas, but dropped the most recent meeting at American Airlines Center on 1/25/12. Dallas avoided the season sweep with a 104-97 victory at Minnesota on 2/10/12. Rick Carlisle recorded his 400th career victory against Minnesota on 12/1/10. The home win was also the 300th by the Mavericks at American Airlines Center. Vince Carter averaged 9.0 points, 2.5 rebounds, 3.0 steals and 23.0 minutes in two games (one start) versus Minnesota last season. Brandan Wright averaged 7.0 points, 1.0 steals, 2.0 blocks and 15.0 minutes in two games against the Timberwolves last season.
It’s a Small World:
Timberwolves guard Jose Barea signed with Dallas as a rookie free agent in 2006 and played for the Mavericks from 2006-11, averaging 7.1 points and 2.9 assists in 315 regular-season games (45 starts). He was a member of the Mavericks’ 2011 NBA championship team. Dallas was down 2-1 to Miami in the 2011 NBA Finals, but went on to win three straight games (and ultimately a world championship) after Barea was inserted into the starting lineup for Game 4.
Mavericks guard O.J. Mayo was a teammate of Timberwolves forward Dante Cunningham on the Memphis Grizzlies in 2011-12. Mayo was originally drafted by Minnesota in the first round (third overall pick) of the 2008 NBA Draft but had his draft rights traded to Memphis with Greg Buckner, Marko Jaric and Antoine Walker in exchange for former Maverick Brian Cardinal, Mike Miller, Jason Collins and the draft rights to Kevin Love. Love was a college teammate of Mavericks point guard Darren Collison on the 2007-08 UCLA Bruins Final Four team. Collison and Mavericks guard Dahntay Jones played with Timberwolves forward Lou Amundson on the Indiana Pacers in 2011-12.
1. At all costs, protect the paint. Minnesota is averaging 44.0 points in the paint over their last five games. On average, Dallas is allowing 44.8 points in the paint over their last five games. A year ago, Minnesota tallied 50+ points in the paint on 13 occasions, collecting a season-high 64 in the 2/17/12 victory at Houston and 60 vs. Oklahoma City on 12/26/11. A player such as Nikola Pekovic, a bruising and physical presence down low, could really be a player who could be a thorn in the side for the Mavericks.
2. Rebound the ball. Minnesota has been +3.0 on the boards over their opponents in their last games. Dallas has clearly had a major issue in regards to rebounding. Again, a player such as Pekovic and even Andrei Kirilenko could be pests on the glass. Dallas needs to do a better job finishing their defensive possessions with a solid rebound. They also need to ensure that Minnesota’s smaller backcourt doesn’t find a way to create second chance opportunities by collecting offensive rebounds. The Wolves are 3-0 this season when they outrebound their opponent. The Mavericks are 2-2 this year when they are outrebounded by their opponent.
3. Get back to protecting the basketball. Dallas has averaged 19.5 turnovers over their last two games after averaging just 14.2 turnovers in their first five games of the season. Turnovers were a major issue for the Mavericks during the preseason before they seemed to correct the issue. Dallas has to ensure that they aren’t starting a negative trend in that department.
Bryan Gutierrez writes about sportsmen. He is a contributing writer for Mavs.com. Bryan also attended Ball So Hard University. You can follow him on Twitter @BallinWithBryan.