Ready to come home: Wolves-Mavs Preview


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JJ Barea returns to Dallas. This time to actually play

Where: American Airlines Arena, Dallas, TX

When: 7:30 pm

See It: FSN

Hear It: WCCO AM 830

The Wolves can’t be more excited to be over with this dreadful road trip.

Trying to avoid a four-game losing streak on the latest road trip that saw stops in Oklahoma City, New Orleans and San Antonio, the Wolves are in Dallas tonight to face a familiar opponent. The Wolves and Mavericks have already faced off twice this season (Once in Dallas, once in Minnesota) and have fortunately docked two wins for the Wolves.

So facing a familiar foe should be the key to coming out of this road trip winless, right?

Not exactly.

The Mavericks, who also struggle to keep their lineups healthy and played the majority of the season without their star Dirk Nowitzki, have started to turn things around, winning their last two including a big win over the Memphis Grizzlies last Saturday. Their deep bench featuring the former star Vince Carter and the versatile Jae Crowder will give the Wolves fits. Ultimately, they have fresh legs and a ton of them whereas Terry Porter and the Wolves are scrounging for any ounce of energy off their bench to give the starters a rest.

Speaking of bench play, the X-factor tonight will certainly be JJ Barea, who returns to play in Dallas for the first time since leaving via free agency to Minnesota. He may not be 100% still, coming off a spasming back that forced him to miss the first two games of the road trip, but he’s without a doubt the most consistent backcourt scoring option the Wolves have right now. The ravaging injuries have forced some Wolves out of their elements; Alexey Shved is being asked to do too much and his shooting percentage has suffered; Ricky Rubio still isn’t healthy and is having trouble finding chemistry on the offensive end; Luke Ridnour is playing well but doesn’t have the ability to score at a high clip night-in and night-out. It really comes down to how well Barea can take care of the ball and attack the Mavs’ interior defense. It also won’t hurt if he can connect from deep three of four times either.

Projected Starting Five:

Darren Collison — PG — Luke Ridnour

O.J. Mayo — SG — Alexey Shved

Shawn Marion — SF — Andrei Kirilenko

Dirk Nowitzki — PF — Dante Cunningham

Chris Kaman — C — Nikola Pekovic