By: Seth Toupal
Fresh off a 131-123 win against Cleveland the Wolves are in Dallas taking on the new look Mavericks. Offense and bench were great for the Wolves in their first win of the year, but the defense continues to get torched and gave up plenty of open looks in allowing Cleveland to get back into the game (although the refs had a hand in that also). But still, progress. There were some good moments defensively that got lost in translation. It seems like this team might just be able to get things to gel, but a loss on the road could change all of that.
What: Wolves @ Mavericks
When: 7:30 PM CT
Where: American Airlines Center
Where to watch: Fox Sports North Plus
Where to listen: 830 AM WCCO
What to watch for:
Stringing wins together: The Wolves did a lot of great things against the Cavs including getting the bench involved and playing at a faster tempo. But playing on the second night of a back-to-back and playing on the road were not kind to the Wolves last year, can they make it 2 wins in a row at the start of a difficult first month of the season?
Feed KAT: Karl-Anthony Towns has 20 TOTAL points through the first two games of the season. He fouled out against the Spurs and finished the Cavs game with 12 points and 9 rebounds, including several stretches where he wasn't even targeted on offense. The Wolves have to get him more involved in the gameplan. Towns is the franchise player, and in order for him to continue to grow as a player Tom Thibodeau needs to get him more involved. He does have a tough matchup against DeAndre Jordan but that shouldn't sway the Wolves from feeding him the ball.
Doncic Show: Dallas swung a big draft day trade to acquire Luka Doncic. His NBA debut wasn't anything flashy (10 points and 8 rebounds on 5-16 shooting) but Doncic showed some great flashes in the preseason and will be one of the reasons to keep an eye on Dallas all season. How will he fare against the Timberwolves?
No Dirk: Unfortunately the Mavericks will be without the services of Dirk Nowitzki on what is likely his farewell tour in Dallas. Nowitzki has had some great games against the Wolves throughout his career but will have to channel his success from the bench.
Minnesota: PG Jeff Teague, SG Andrew Wiggins, SF Jimmy Butler, PF Taj Gibson, C Karl-Anthony Towns
San Antonio: PG Dennis Smith Jr, SG Luka Doncic, SF Wes Matthews, PF Dorian Finney-Smith, C DeAndre Jordan
Minnesota: OUT - Justin Patton (foot)
Dallas: OUT - Dirk Nowitzki (ankle), Harrison Barnes (hamstring-unlikely to play) and Devin Harris (hamstring-unlikely to play)
The Mavericks are an interesting team, but still not ready to rise to the level of the rest of the Western Conference. DeAndre Jordan will help the Mavs keep things closer between these two teams, but with Dallas shorthanded it will be tough for them to stick around for the entire game. Give me the Wolves on the road with a healthy dose of Jeff Teague and Jimmy Butler. 115-92 Wolves make things look easy tonight.
Seth is host of The Scoop on KLGR Radio out of Redwood Falls, Minnesota. Listen to episodes of The Scoop here.