Setting the Table: Minnesota Timberwolves (Game 62)

Posted by Bryan Gutierrez on March 10, 2013 under Previews | Be the First to Comment

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The Dallas Mavericks (28-33) looking for a three-game winning streak as they take on Ricky R…I mean, the Minnesota Timberwolves (21-38). Dallas only has four streaks this season of at least three consecutive wins, showing how much of a struggle this season has been. News out of Minnesota has Shawn Marion once again sitting out due to a left calf contusion. The Timberwolves, meanwhile, are expected to play without four starters – Nikola Pekovic (abdominal strain), Kevin Love (broken hand), Andrei Kirilenko (strained left calf) and Brandon Roy (knee surgery) – for the fifth straight contest.

The floundering Utah Jazz continue to give the Mavericks hope when it comes to the playoffs. Utah’s loss to New York on Saturday night bumped Dallas up to three games back of the eighth seed in the West. That sounds great, but the Mavericks have to remember there are two additional teams they have to leapfrog in order to get the spot the Jazz have: the Trail Blazers and the Lakers. That being said, the Mavericks need to win in order to have a chance to get that eighth spot.

Here are the notes for the game between the Mavericks and the Wolves.

Series Notes:

The Mavericks have won 20 of the last 25 regular-season meetings with the Timberwolves, but Minnesota has taken four of the last six. Minnesota leads the 2012-13 season series, 2-1. The Timberwolves recorded a 90-82 victory in the first meeting between the two teams this season at Dallas on Nov. 12, and a 114-106 overtime-win at Minnesota on Dec. 15. The Mavericks won the most recent showdown 113-98 at Dallas on Jan. 14.

The Mavericks have won 10 of the last 12 meetings in Minnesota, but the Timberwolves have taken two of the last three (including the 114-106 overtime-win on Dec. 15).

O.J. Mayo is averaging 19.3 points, 5.7 rebounds, 5.3 assists, 1.0 steals and 38.7 minutes in three starts against Minnesota in 2012-13. Darren Collison is averaging 17.0 points, 5.7 assists, 2.3 steals and 34.7 minutes in three games (two starts) against the Timberwolves this season. This will be the second game against the Timberwolves that Shawn Marion has missed due to injury. He missed the game on Nov. 12 due to a sprained left MCL. Dirk Nowitzki missed the first two games against Minnesota as he was recovering from his knee surgery. He had 10 points and six assists against the Timberwolves on Jan. 14.

On Jan. 1, 2012, 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). Nowitzki averaged 27.0 points, 4.0 rebounds, 1.0 steals, 1.5 blocks and 34.0 minutes in two starts against the Timberwolves in 2011-12.

Rick Carlisle recorded his 400th career victory against Minnesota on Dec. 1, 2010.

The Mavericks won 13 straight games against the Timberwolves from Jan. 7, 2006 through Nov. 13, 2009.

It’s a Small World:

Timberwolves guard JJ 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 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.

Three Keys:

1. Take advantage of the schedule. Minnesota hosts Dallas on the second night of a back-to-back. The Wolves limped into altitude and took on the Denver Nuggets. Minnesota ultimately suffered a crushing 111-88 loss to Denver. Dallas needs to take advantage of this break in the schedule.

2. Ride the hot shooting of…Mike James???? Mike James (who – Mike James) was 23.3 percent (7-of-30) from 3-point range in his first 20 games. He is now 55.0 percent (11-of-20) from 3-point range over his last four games. Is it possible James is seeing a JJ Barea-like turnaround from 3? Remember, Barea was having a historically bad run from distance to start the 2010-11 season before he was able to turn it around. O.J. Mayo isn’t doing so bad himself from 3-point range. Mayo has made at least three treys in each of his last four games. He’s shot 70.0 percent (14-of-20) from beyond the arc over his last four games. Since Mar. 1, Dallas is tops in the league in terms of 3-point shooting at 44.8 percent.

3. More of the Wright stuff. Brandan Wright recorded 14 points on 7-of-10 shooting, six rebounds and a season-high-tying three blocks in 19 minutes off the bench at Detroit. He scored in double figures for the third consecutive game (17th time this season). Dallas improved to 3-1 this season when he scores at least 14 points. Wright has made 25 of his last 34 field goal attempts (73.5 percent).

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.