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Preview: Minnesota Timberwolves (42-30) at Dallas Mavericks (43-28)

The Minnesota Timberwolves will go for their fifth win in a row when they visit the Dallas Mavericks on Monday night.

Minnesota is coming off Saturday’s 138-119 victory at home against the Milwaukee Bucks. That followed wins over the Los Angeles Lakers, San Antonio Spurs and Miami Heat.

Confidence is building in the Timberwolves’ locker room among a young team that has won 10 of its past 11 games.

Minnesota head coach Chris Finch appreciates the team’s energetic style.

“We’ve got a lot of strong personalities, a lot of outgoing guys,” Finch said. “(I) just try to let them be themselves. They’re young. They’re excitable. They like each other. They root for each other. I won’t dampen their sprits too much.”

Now comes a tough matchup against Dallas with possible playoff implications. The Timberwolves are 1 1/2 games behind the Mavericks in the Western Conference standings, and they likely will need to pass either Dallas or the Denver Nuggets to finish in the top six and avoid a play-in game.

The Mavericks are looking to bounce back from losses to the Philadelphia 76ers and Charlotte Hornets on Friday and Saturday, hoping to avoid their first three-game losing streak in more than three months (Dec. 3-7).

Luka Doncic scored 37 points on 13-for-20 shooting in the Mavericks’ most recent contest, but that still was not enough as Dallas fell in Charlotte 129-108. No other Dallas player scored more than 12 points.

“Luka was very good, but tonight we just couldn’t get anybody to join him,” Mavericks head coach Jason Kidd said Saturday. “There’s going to be nights where he doesn’t score the ball or have 30-something points.

“In his book it could be an off night, which is sometimes just a great night for average players. We hold him at a very high level, and again he came to play. Unfortunately, no one else did.”

Kidd said the Mavericks could move on quickly from the back-to-back losses.

“There’s some good things that we did do, and there’s a lot of things that we can do better,” he said. “It didn’t end the way we wanted it to, so now we’ve got to get home and protect home.”

This is the third of four regular-season matchups between the Timberwolves and Mavericks. Minnesota won the first game 111-105 at home on Dec. 19, and the Mavericks responded two nights later by winning in Dallas 114-102. They will play again Friday at Minnesota.

Karl-Anthony Towns leads the Timberwolves with 24.9 points and 9.9 rebounds per game, but he’s listed as questionable for the Mavericks game after picking up a right forearm contusion against the Spurs.

Doncic leads Dallas with 28.1 points, 9.2 rebounds and 8.5 assists. Spencer Dinwiddie is averaging 17.5 points in 13 games (six starts) with the Mavericks since arriving from the Washington Wizards in a trade.

Dallas is 23-12 on its home court this season. Minnesota is 18-18 on the road.

Leather Head Sports

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