MINNEAPOLIS – Starting Monday at 7 p.m., the Dallas Mavericks will play two games in three days at the Target Center against the Minnesota Timberwolves in a Texas two-step that has all the makings of a playoff series.
It’s the NBA’s way of cutting down on some of the hectic travel that teams has to endure during the course of a long 82-game season. And in this case, since the Mavs must play Minnesota twice away from American Airlines Center this season, the practical way to handle this is to just play both games on the same road trip.
However, the Mavs are not jumping ahead to Wednesday’s game in Minnesota until they finish with Monday’s game in Minnesota.
“We just got to take it one game at a time,” point guard Kemba Walker said. “Those guys are really talented over there.
“We just got to come prepared. I’m sure we’ll have most of our guys back, so we’ve got to lock in.”
The addition of Walker may prove to be a very critical find by general manager Nico Harrison. Signed late last month to a free agent contract, Walker tallied a game-high 32 points, grabbed five rebounds and distributed seven assists in 42 minutes during the loss to the Cavaliers.
In short, Walker did the things former Mavs guard Jalen Brunson used to do before he signed a four-year, $104 million free agent contract with the New York Knicks this past summer. Walker said he won’t push the envelope and beg for more playing time.
“I really just do what I’m asked,” Walker said. “That’s what I’m here for – just to fill any role that they want to give me to play.
“Whenever my name is called, I just try to be ready.”
Walker also is ready to play some extended minutes with Doncic. He did play sparingly alongside Doncic during Friday’s win over Portland, but he would relish a more substantial role on the court with the Mavs’ Most Valuable Player candidate.
“I would love it, no question,” Walker said. “Who wouldn’t want to play with that kid.? He’s special.”
The Mavs are hoping to do some special things of their own and win both games in Minnesota this week. But first things first – Monday’s game.
*Luka Dončić (right quadricep strain), Tim Hardaway Jr. (non-Covid illness), Davis Bertans (non-Covid illness) and Dwight Powell (left thigh contusion) are all questionable for Monday’s game. Josh Green (right elbow sprain) and Maxi Kleber (right hamstring tear) will not play Monday.
*The Mavs are 12-3 this season when Tim Hardaway Jr. scores 10 or more points in a game. One of those three losses occurred Saturday when Hardaway tallied 13 points in the 100-99 overtime loss to the Cleveland Cavaliers.
*Behind 37 points from Anthony Edwards, the Timberwolves broke the franchise’s single-game scoring record Sunday night with a 150-126 victory over the Chicago Bulls. D’Angelo Russell added 28 points for Minnesota, who also made a season-high 23 shots from beyond the three-point arc. The Timberwolves led that game, 113-97, after the third quarter.
*The Mavs are 15-15, and nearly one year ago today, the Mavs were also 15-15. That came on Dec. 21, 2021 following a 114-102 victory at home against the Minnesota Timberwolves.
*Anthony Edwards (22.9 ppg, 5.9 rpg), D’Angelo Russell (17 ppg, 6.4 apg), Rudy Gobert (14.1 ppg, 12.2 rpg) and Jaylen Nowell (11.5 ppg). Karl-Antony Towns averages20.8 ppg, 8.2 rpg and 5.3 apg, but is still sidelined after straining his right calf muscle in the third quarter of a 142-127 loss on the road against the Washington Wizards on Nov. 28.
DALLAS MAVERICKS (15-15) at MINNESOTA TIMBERWOLVES (15-15)
When: 7 p.m., Monday
Where: Target Center, Minneapolis
TV: Bally Sports Southwest
Radio: 97.1 FM The Freak; 99.1 FM Zona MX (Spanish)