• Coming off of three straight wins, the Timberwolves return home and look to continue their streak versus the Dallas Mavericks.

    With two days off at home, the Wolves were able to get in ample practice time and it’s possible we’ll see them break out some new concepts. More than likely, the team will be rested and ready to dive into a back-to-back.

    Karl-Anthony Towns will look to bounce back in a big way after having his worst game of the season on Wednesday night, posting two points in 22 minutes. There isn’t much standing in his way, with the Mavs starting the legendary, but aging, Dirk Nowitzki down low.

    Dirk won’t be much of a threat defensively, and while the Mavs have a stable of young bigs with Noel, Powell, Mejri and Kleber to back up Dirk, only Noel may pose much of a challenge to Towns and he has played sparingly this season recovering from knee injuries.

    On the perimeter, Teague will face off with rookie Dennis Smith.

    Smith has been a highlight reel sensation, pulling off incredible dunks and layups while showing off his top-end athleticism. The rookie fell onto Dallas’ lap in the draft and they were thrilled to take him.

    He’s still extremely raw, shooting only 39.8 percent overall, 25.9 percent from three-point range and 52 percent from the line, while averaging 3.6 turnovers per game. His talent is exciting though for the long-term.

    Teague should be able to handle this matchup if he play’s his normal game. Expect the Wolves to set a lot of pick and rolls for Teague and force Smith to run through some screens.

    The Mavericks currently sit at (record here), and are just not really talented enough to keep up with many teams at this juncture. They have many talented individual scorers, but no real cohesion on offense. Defensively, they are pretty poor overall.

    They haven’t really run out a consistent lineup all season, but tend to play a bit smaller. Despite playing small they play slow, likely to support their defense, and only Smith and Harrison Barnes really have the chops to play in transition.

    Dallas is led by one of the best coaches in the NBA, Rick Carlisle, and he will always have his team ready to compete. They have the ability to sneak up on teams. This should be a game the Wolves win though. They are playing at home, with two days off. The Mavs meanwhile will be coming off a game on Friday night.

    Key Matchups:

    – Wes Matthews

    – Harrison Barnes

    At this point in his career, Matthews is mostly a spot-up three-point shooter. He’s lost a step since his Achilles injury two years ago, so his driving ability is not a huge factor now. If he drives, Wiggins has more than enough ability to stay in his pocket.

    He can still light up the scoreboard in a hurry though. The Mavs don’t really have a player that needs to be double teamed in the post, so there should be no excuse for the Wolves to leave Wes alone on the perimeter, where he does most of his damage. Running him off the line effectively takes him out of the offense.

    Meanwhile, Wes does not have much of a chance sticking with Wiggins or Butler on the perimeter and in space. The last few games, Wiggins has seemingly floated around the floor, not really getting involved in the action until the fourth quarter.

    The Wolves need aggressive Wiggins all game. The offense tends to run better the more assertive he is on drives.

    Down low, Harrison Barnes isn’t a traditional four in the NBA. He’s not even really a modern four but that’s where the Mavs are playing him, and the transition hasn’t been smooth for him thus far. He’s averaging 16.3 points per game, which is down from 19.2 last season. He’s also shooting just 39.3 percent from the field.

    With the Wolves’ bigger lineup, the Mavs are starting Barnes at the “three” tonight for the first time this season.

    With these glaring mismatches on each side, it’s possible the flow of the game will dictate the lineups. I wouldn’t be surprised to see the matchups change significantly. It’s possible the Wolves will switch a lot on the perimeter, so Butler and Wiggins will switch defensive assignments.

    I also anticipate Thibs will run a small ball lineup, replacing Gibson with Crawford, especially if the game is close late. In that scenario, Wiggins would matchup with Barnes at the four, which could lead to some fun one-on-one, and Butler would guard Wes at the three.

    The Mavs run a lot of different looks out there, it will be up to Thibs to push the right buttons.

    Starting Lineups:

    Teague

    Butler

    Wiggins

    Gibson

    Towns

    vs.

    Smith

    Matthews

    Barnes

    Nowitzki

    Mejri

    Injuries:

    Justin Patton (foot): OUT

    Seth Curry (leg): OUT

    Dorian Finney-Smith (knee): QUESTIONABLE

    Josh McRoberts (knee): OUT

    Where to watch:

    8:00 ET/7:00 CT on Fox Sports North PLUS

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