Mavericks vs Timberwolves Picks and Predictions: McDaniels, Wolves Hound Doncic Again

Luka Doncic is a magician who has eviscerated the NBA this season, but he struggled Monday vs. the Timberwolves. That is hardly an anomaly in a tricky matchup for the Mavericks' superstar and our NBA picks expect a repeat tonight.

Last Updated: Dec 21, 2022 12:56 PM ET Read Time: 4 min
Luka Doncic Dallas Mavericks NBA
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For the second time in three nights, the Dallas Mavericks and Minnesota Timberwolves will clash at Target Center in Minneapolis.

Both Dallas and Minnesota are Top 6 hopefuls in the Western Conference who have gotten off to underwhelming starts this season. The first meeting between the pair, on Monday night, saw the Wolves win 115-106 to skip past the Mavs to eighth place in the West. 

Ahead of a rematch between two teams jousting in the middle of the conference, and two electrifying stars in Luka Doncic and Anthony Edwards, check out our NBA picks and predictions for the Mavericks vs. Timberwolves. 

Mavericks vs Timberwolves best odds

Mavericks vs Timberwolves picks and predictions

Luka Doncic has spent the first two months of the season torching everyone and putting himself firmly in the NBA MVP mix. That's why, in some respects, it was jarring to see Doncic as such a peripheral part of the Mavs' loss to the Timberwolves on Monday, prior to being ejected at the end of the third quarter.

Doncic's impact Monday, however, was not out of the norm in a matchup that has caused Luka problems — and will again tonight.

While Minnesota's struggled with identity and care on the defensive end, third-year wing Jaden McDaniels has continued along the path to being an All-Defense caliber player. He took on Doncic as his primary assignment on Monday, as he always does, and made life hell for Luka, who scored 19 points on 5 of 17 shooting with four turnovers — and was just 1-for-9 when defended by McDaniels. 

That was a far cry from Doncic's standards but not so much against the Wolves. Going back to the start of 2020-21, Doncic's last five games against Minnesota, prior to Monday, read:

  • 9-for-22 (26 points)
  • 6-for-16 (15 points)
  • 6-for-13 (18 points)
  • 5-for-17 (15 points) 
  • 8-for-18 (24 points)

Since McDaniels was drafted, Doncic has failed to reach his career-average points per game (27.0) against the Wolves in a single game. As they're currently constructed, he'll be hard-pressed to change that tonight, because there isn't much of a reprieve elsewhere on the floor for Doncic to hunt.

Anthony Edwards, while occasionally absent-minded off ball, can be a suffocating on-ball defender. Either Austin Rivers or Kyle Anderson will round out Minnesota's lineup tonight and either is capable of giving Doncic problems — Rivers as an intense, on-ball defender in his face and Anderson as a savvy positional defender who will not (can not?) have his game sped up by Luka's tricks. 

Doncic failed to shake McDaniels' tremendous defense on Monday, fresh after being rested in the Mavs' prior game. In the rematch Wednesday, Luka will be similarly frustrated. 

My best bet: Luka Doncic Under 30.5 points (+100)

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Mavericks vs Timberwolves spread analysis

After the Wolves beat the Mavs by 10 on Monday in a game in which they were 6-point underdogs, Dallas opened as 3.5-point favorites for the rematch and remains at -3 or -3.5 across the board. 

With Rudy Gobert questionable with a sprained ankle but trending toward a return, and Anderson a game-time decision, there's a decent likelihood this line shrinks before tip but I'm staying away regardless.

Without either All-NBA center in the lineup over the past three games, Minnesota has played some of its best ball of the season. Anthony Edwards is playing the most impactful basketball of his career, D'Angelo Russell is shooting the lights out in an increasingly off-ball role, and the high-wall scheme they ran so successfully last season has returned to similar success with Naz Reid left to start at the five. 

Between the strong play out of Minnesota over the last week, and the Mavs' struggles extending into the second week of December, this has set up well for the Wolves. However, the possibility Gobert remains out and the Mavericks exploit a glaring lack of size is too real for me to get involved on a side. 

Mavericks vs Timberwolves Over/Under analysis

Helped by Doncic's struggles and ultimately his early exit, Monday's game went nine points Under a total of 231 and sits at 229.5 for Wednesday's rematch. With Gobert's status uncertain — and the way his presence alters a game, entirely, on both ends — I'm not looking to play the total, at least until the Stifle Tower's in or out. 

I will, however, be playing the Over on Minnesota's team total of 111.5.

Everything has clicked a little easier since Karl-Anthony Towns went down injured at the end of November, with Minnesota still struggling to find the flow of its offense in its newfound lineup before then. Since November 30, the Wolves rank 10th in offensive rating (114.3) and fourth in true shooting percentage (60.5), after ranking 17th and ninth respectively up to that date.

Edwards has not only been empowered as the team's primary ball handler and initiator but he has embraced the role, too, after previously bristling at being the team's pseudo-point guard. Without Towns in the lineup, Ant's seen his assist rate jump from 19% to 28.8% and that has been a transformative development. With Russell's knockdown shooting off ball and Edwards' gravitational pull, everything has made a little more sense.

Gobert's status, whether he's in or out tonight, will have a massive impact on the game and total's outlook. What it won't change, however, is that Edwards is in the midst of becoming one of the NBA's most lethal primary ball handlers and a singular force capable of dragging this Wolves team to a respectable offense. 

Mavericks vs Timberwolves betting trend to know

The Mavericks are 0-4 ATS in their last four games in Minnesota. Find more NBA betting trends for Mavericks vs. Timberwolves.

Mavericks vs Timberwolves game info

Location: Target Center, Minneapolis, MN
Date: Wednesday, December 21, 2022
Tip-off: 8:00 p.m. ET
TV: Bally Sports North

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