The Dallas Mavericks are the Timberwolves first team this season they'll face for the second time. Their first meeting resulted in a 99-82 win over the defending champions. The story there was holding Dallas to just 13 fourth quarter points, while crushing them on the boards 54-35 (a +19).
This time the Wolves are playing in Dallas. Before the game the Mavs will receive their championship rings from last season. Mark Cuban says he specifically chose this game, so that former Maverick and current-Timberwolf J.J. Barea--could participate in the 'ceremony'. J.J. will be going on this one-game road trip, but, it's merely for the ceremony and a social visit--as he won't play with a strained hamstring.
Anthony Tolliver (wrist), Luke Ridnour (sore knee), Wesley Johnson (sick), Darko Milicic (hip) & Brad Miller (knee) didn't practice yesterday and are all listed as questionable for Wednesday's game. I'd expect A.T. & Luke to play, however Darko & Wes, I'm not so sure on. Darko has been bothered with that hip the past few games so they may choose to sit him and I don't think Wes will be feeling better by tomorrow. Brad Miller won't play as he continues to rehab that knee.
Some Timberwolves that have been out that could play include: Michael Beasley (foot) & Martell Webster (back). The Wolves don't want to rush Beas back, but he's said he's feeling better moving on the foot and feels he's regained his explosiveness. If Wes is out, they may opt to bring him back. Martell is very close to debuting and with the lack of depth at guard & forward, we could finally see him this season! If not Wednesday I'd say Friday vs. San Antonio or Sunday vs. the Lakers.
For the Mavericks--they'll be without their best player: Dirk Nowitzki. Dirk is being sat for four games while he works on his conditioning. Lamar Odom has started in his place and he'll be matched up against Kevin Love.
With nine players of fifteen on the injury report, I can honesty say I don't know who to expect in our starting lineup. Ricky Rubio will start at point guard. Either Ridnour or Ellington at shooting guard. Either Johnson, Beasley or Williams will start at small forward. Kevin Love will start at power forward and either Darko Milicic or Nikola Pekovic will be at center. That really narrows it down. Huh?
The Mavericks' best players are Jason Terry & Shawn Marion. Marion & Terry are both capable of going off for 20+ points. Shooting guard & small forward are both positions the Wolves aren't very strong at right now, which could spell trouble for a TWolves team who has now dropped two-straight.
Based on the Wolves' last game vs. Houston, it's clear Minnesota needs someone beyond Kevin Love to step up and score, rebound, assist, block shots etc. Sure, Rubio can drop dimes, but when he shots 20% (2-10) in a game (vs. Houston), that really, really hurts the team. When Darko & Pekovic have big games in the post--both scoring and defending, they provide a big boost for a team that's without a second scoring option--since Beasley has gone down (now missing 10 consecutive games).
Kevin Love may go off for 30-15 against the Mavs on Wednesday, but if everyone else plays like they did (on both sides of the ball) against Houston, it'll be another big loss.
If Minnesota can string a few consecutive wins together they could move up in the conference standings. They currently sit at 11th in the West, but are just three games out of that 8-9 seed! For the first season in a long time, the Timberwolves are buried at the bottom of the conference--as the team's punching bag. If our guys can get healthy within the next week, Minnesota will not only be a better team, but a team with a lot more dimensions. Right now, it's Kevin Love scoring 30 and rebounding 15, while Rubio drops 10 assists..unfortunately, that's about it!
That's all for now, we'll have a full gameday recap following Wednesday's game. I've recently updated the injury report and the stats page, so check out both of those! Thanks for reading HOWL and as always GO WOLVES!
Cody D. Anderson
A Wolves fan bringing you Gameday Recaps all season long!