Minnesota on Three-Game Win Streak
The Dallas Mavericks try to move above .500 when they take on the streaking Minnesota Timberwolves in a Western Conference matchup on Sunday night. The opening tip of this contest is scheduled for 8 p.m. ET at Target Center in Minneapolis.
Dallas is coming off a last-second overtime loss to the Los Angeles Lakers on Wednesday, snapping its two-game winning streak. The Mavericks are 14-14 and in second place in the Southwest Division, four games behind the first-place Memphis Grizzlies and three games ahead of the third-place San Antonio Spurs.
The Timberwolves have won three in a row, including a rout of the visiting Lakers on Friday night. Minnesota is 14-15 and in third place in the Northwest Division, trailing the second-place Denver Nuggets by one game and the first-place Utah Jazz by six games.
The NBA lines put the Timberwolves as 3½-point favorites at home, with the over/under set at 213½ points if you want to make that bet online.
Up and Down
It’s been a rough stretch for the Mavericks, who started the season 9-4 but have dropped 10 of their last 15. The two-game winning streak Dallas put together six days ago was its first since mid-November.
It hasn’t helped that the team hasn’t had superstar guard Luka Doncic for the past three games, and the 22-year-old will also be out for this one as he deals with an ankle injury. Doncic is ninth in the NBA in scoring at 25.6 points per game, fourth in assists per game at 8.5, and is also contributing 8.0 rebounds to the Dallas cause.
With Doncic unavailable, center Kristaps Porzingis is counted on for more production. Porzingis has notched double-doubles in his last two games, averaging 23.5 points, 12.5 rebounds and 3.5 blocks per contest, but he is going to need some help in this one.
Guard Jalen Brunson takes over much of the playmaking duties without Doncic in the lineup, and he’s done well over the last two games, averaging 8.5 assists as well as 16.0 points. For the season, Brunson is averaging a career-high 14.8 points and 5.0 assists, as he’s been getting much more consistent playing time under new coach Jason Kidd.
Stepping It Up
Minnesota center Karl-Anthony Towns is showing some renewed vigor to be the best big man in the game of late, and it’s showing in his production. One game after going for 32 points against the reigning MVP Nikola Jokic, Towns had 28 points and 10 rebounds in the easy win over the Lakers on Friday.
“I’m going to let people make their assumptions and make their judgment. I just know that every day when I come here, I play the game with a tremendous amount of confidence,” Towns said after Friday’s win. “I wanted to set the standard. I wanted to try to impose myself into the game real quick, understanding Ant’s not here.”
“Ant” is Anthony Edwards, who is out due to being in the NBA’s health and safety protocols. The second-year guard is averaging 22.1 points, 5.8 rebounds, and 3.6 assists but will miss his second straight game on Sunday, leaving it up to Towns to carry much of the load.
Towns has been his usual productive self, averaging 24.4 points, 9.0 rebounds, 3.4 assists, 1.1 blocks, and 1.1 steals. But when he asserts himself on the court, he can be a dominant force.
Guard D’Angelo Russell is another player the Timberwolves need to be more assertive, as he has the game to be able to put up big scoring numbers. He had 17 points and six assists against Los Angeles, and he’s averaging 18.8 points and 6.4 assists in his second full season with Minnesota.
Dallas without Doncic is a different team, and even with the star, the Mavericks have been struggling to put together wins. Minnesota is playing with a lot of confidence right now, especially at home, and a big performance from Towns should extend its winning streak to four.
When doing your NBA betting, take Minnesota to win and cover at home.