Minnesota Timberwolves at Dallas Mavericks
When and Where: Saturday, Oct. 20, American Airlines Center, Dallas, Texas, 8:30 p.m. EDT.
Luka Doncic looks to build on his modest NBA debut Saturday night when he plays his first regular-season game at home as the Dallas Mavericks host the Minnesota Timberwolves.
T-Wolves making second trip to Texas in four days
The Timberwolves are racking up frequent-flyer miles early as they will be playing this game on back-to-back nights after winning their home opener 131-123 over the Cleveland Cavaliers on Friday night.
Jimmy Butler was jeered and cheered by Timberwolves fans, still upset their star player asked to be dealt out of Minnesota. But after scoring 33 points on 10-of-12 shooting, there were “M-V-P” chants ringing throughout the Target Center as Butler embraced all the emotions the fans brought.
“I knew they was going to switch up on me,” Butler told The Athletic. “That’s part of it. I think there’s some more boos to come one of these days.”
Karl-Anthony Towns again failed to record a double-double but did play better with 12 points and nine rebounds. Normally an automatic double-double after leading the NBA with 68 last season, the Wolves center has not gone three games without a double-double since Feb. 10-14, 2017.
Gorgui Dieng provided a huge boost off the bench for the second straight game with 11 points, hitting 5 of 6 shots in 13 minutes. He has also grabbed nine rebounds in those games in helping Minnesota score 100 points in the paint in the first two contests.
Doncic, Dallas look to rebound after loss to Phoenix
Doncic was the third overall pick by Atlanta, which then shipped him to Dallas as part of the deal that sent Trae Young to the Hawks. Big things are expected of the 19-year-old Slovenian in Dallas, where he is expected to take the torch from future Hall of Famer Dirk Nowitzki and be the next face of the franchise.
That transition will take time, though, evidenced by Dallas’ 121-100 loss at Phoenix on Wednesday. Doncic did some good things, finishing with 10 points, eight rebounds and four assists in just under 32 minutes. But the 6-7 guard also showed he will endure a steep learning curve to NBA life — Doncic went 5 of 16 from the field and missed all five of his 3-point attempts.
— Dallas Mavericks (@dallasmavs) October 18, 2018
“For me, work on what I can do. For me, I will play better. I think the first quarter I started really good, but then with the foul trouble I had to go out,” Doncic told the Mavs’ official website. “But like I said, I am not happy about a loss because I am a good competitive guy. I just want to win, so we have to bounce back.”
Foul troubles and injuries hampered the Mavericks on the defensive end, where they were overwhelmed by a barrage of 3-pointers as they were down only four with seven minutes to play. Phoenix hit 19 of 34 from beyond the arc — only Houston (21) made more in a game against Dallas last season — as fellow rookie Jalen Brunson and J.J. Barea had trouble keeping up with the Suns guards after Devin Harris left due to a hamstring injury.
Second-year guard Dennis Smith Jr. had a rough shooting game, hitting just 6 of 19 shots — including 1 of 7 from beyond 10 feet — as he finished with 13 points, five assists and three steals.
Forward Harrison Barnes — last season’s scoring leader at 19.2 points per game — is likely to be held out as he nears a return from a hamstring injury that caused him to miss all four preseason games and much of training camp. Mavericks coach Rick Carlisle was pleased Barnes went through his first full practice Friday but noted it’s probably unlikely (Barnes will play against Minnesota) just to err on the side of caution, but not impossible.”
Dallas has lost its last three home openers since beating Utah 120-102 to open the 2014-15 season.
The Mavericks are:
- 1-4 ATS in their last five games.
- The underdog is 5-16 ATS in the last 21 games between the teams.
- The under is 18-7-1 in their last 26 Saturday games.
- The under is 4-1-1 in their last six home games vs. the Timberwolves.
The Timberwolves are:
- 7-2 ATS in their last nine Saturday games.
- The under is 5-2 in their last seven road games.
- The under is 12-3-1 in their last 16 games vs. the Mavericks.
The Bottom Line What to bet on this game.
Full-Game Side Bet
Dysfunction aside, the Timberwolves have taken care of business against the Mavericks of late, sweeping last season’s four games and winning six of the last seven between the teams in the last two seasons.
Towns should bounce back, and while Butler’s conditioning may be a slight issue on the back end of games on consecutive nights, the talent level of Minnesota’s three stars will overpower the youth of the Mavericks. Of particular interest will be Butler matching up with Doncic at various points to give the Mavericks rookie a proper NBA welcome.
Prediction: Pick: Timberwolves -2.5
Full-Game Total Pick
The teams have failed to surpass 200 points in six of their seven meetings over the last two seasons, and the one that did failed to reach 216. Without Barnes, the Mavericks are using Matthews as an undersized forward in the low post, which sacrifices some of his perimeter prowess.
The Timberwolves continue to be a lousy 3-point shooting team — they made 6 of 19 in their loss to the San Antonio Spurs — which is in line with them making just 8.0 per game in 2017-18.
Dallas’ offense remains a work in progress, and lacking its leading scorer in Barnes means the Mavericks will be hard-pressed to help get this point total to clear that hefty amount of 216.
Prediction: Pick: UNDER 216 points
Full-Game Prop Bet
Playing on back-to-back nights and making a road trip could lead to some tired leg for the Timberwolves. They topped 110 points just three times in 10 road games when playing on the back end of consecutive nights and averaged 105.7 points in those games. It will be close, but Minnesota likely will fall just short.
Prediction: Pick: Timberwolves UNDER 111 points (-110)
Half-Time Side Pick
Though the Timberwolves have not led at halftime in their last three games versus the Mavericks, Tom Thibodeau’s team played well enough Friday night to believe it can carry that form into this game, especially with Dallas missing Barnes.
Prediction: Pick: Timberwolves -0.5 points (-110)
Half-Time Total Bet
Again sticking with the head-to-head trend between these teams, they failed to combine for 100 points in the previous three matches last season and the one that did only reached 108.
Prediction: Pick: UNDER 110 points (-110)
Half-Time Prop Prediction
The Mavericks scored just 24 first-quarter points against the Suns, who run a faster offense than the Timberwolves. Minnesota should be able to clamp down defensively in the early going as Dallas continues to figure out how to get production in the paint beyond pick-and-roll alley-oops to Jordan.
Prediction: Pick: Mavericks UNDER 27.5 points (-115)