With yet another great performance from Luka Doncic, 30 points, 6 rebounds, and 5 assists in a 104-94 win against the Phoenix Suns, Dallas takes the show on the road. The Mavericks (19-22) will visit the Target Center to take on the Minnesota Timberwolves (20-21). Both teams have had pretty significant revelations since their last meeting, with Luka emerging as the Mavericks future and Jimmy Butler becoming a part of the Wolves past. Let’s check out a few things to keep an eye on tonight.
Maxi is starter material
The Dallas starting unit has been in a funk as of late with many (myself included) calling for immediate changes. With the addition of Dirk joining the reserves, rotations had to adjust somehow. Kleber has been the biggest minute casualty, even recording a DNP-C against Boston.
The 26-year-old sophomore has been the epitome of professionalism, patiently waiting on the bench despite his superb play. He gave the starting lineup a much-needed shot in the arm against Phoenix with 13 points, 9 rebounds, and 2 monster blocks. He is such a Swiss army knife of sorts; shot blocker, rim runner, great glass cleaner, and decent shooter from the perimeter. It’s a mystery Rick doesn’t find a way to get him more burn.
Carlisle loves to preach “Be ready” to his players over the years. Which at times seem to translate to “Better players sometimes sit”. We have to assume Carlisle has some method to his madness, but it can be puzzling with his yo-yo-ing of rotations. Let’s hope Kleber keeps his spot or at least his minutes, he has earned that as the Mavs are 3-1 when he gets the starting nod.
Addition by subtraction
Minnesota has recently adopted the belief that less is more, in a manner of speaking. Since sending disgruntled Jimmy Butler to Philly, the dark cloud looming over the Wolves has dissipated somewhat. Can anyone forget the MFFL’s chanting “Jimmy Butler” during Towns free throws back in October?
Mavs fans distract KAT with Jimmy Butler chants 💀 pic.twitter.com/MHWcwQ2BSF
— Bleacher Report (@BleacherReport) October 21, 2018
The Wolves have also decided to move on from head coach Tom Thibodeau, with interim Ryan Saunders taking over. With an All-Star and former coach of the year now out of Minneapolis, there should be no excuses left for KAT and Wiggins to lead this team to success. Wiggins just had 40 against OKC and Towns had 28 points and 18 rebounds against the Lakers, this duo will be a different monster this time around.
Free throws matter
If I told you before the season started, DeAndre Jordan would be one of the teams best free throw shooters, you’d think the team FT percentages were awful. Well, both are true and surprisingly it’s not DJs fault.
The Mavericks are 3rd in the league getting to the line at 27.5 attempts per game, that’s a huge improvement from last years ranking of 2nd to last with just 18.7 a game. As great as that is, they are also the 22nd worst in converting those free throws at a measly 74.6% a night. The good news is the Mavericks are aggressive attacking the basket and DJ’s presence is felt down low often putting opposing big men in foul trouble early on.
It will be important for the Mavs to continue to attack the basket and drain their free throws to outlast the T-Wolves tonight in Minnesota.
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