Timberwolves vs Mavericks Picks and Predictions: Minnesota Locks Down Piping Hot Mavs

With both West teams playing at a torrid rate, this game could go either way. However, we're thinking the underdog Twolves will do just enough to cover the NBA betting spread in our Timberwolves vs. Mavericks picks and predictions.

Last Updated: Mar 21, 2022 4:52 PM ET Read Time: 4 min
Anthony Edwards Minnesota Timberwolves NBA
Photo By - USA TODAY Sports

The Minnesota Timberwolves are officially in the thick of the Western Conference playoff race and not just vying to host a play-in game.

As of the Nuggets’ loss Sunday night, Minnesota is the No. 6 seed out west, and with two games against the fifth-seeded Dallas Mavericks this week, it could reasonably still move up another slot. Of course, beating the Mavericks just once will be tough, let alone twice.

Here are our free NBA picks and predictions for the Timberwolves vs. Mavericks on March 21, with tip set for 8:30 ET.

Timberwolves vs Mavericks odds

This odds widget represents the best odds available for each betting market from regulated sportsbooks.

The Mavericks opened as 3-point favorites on Sunday afternoon, and after that moved up to -3.5 before falling to -2.5 late Monday morning. The total has seen just as little movement, hitting the boards at either 230 or 230.5 depending on your sportsbook, on Sunday, and settling at 230 early Monday afternoon after briefly touching 229.5.

Use the live odds widget above to track any future line movements right until tip-off and be sure to check out the full NBA odds before betting to ensure you get the best number.

Timberwolves vs Mavericks predictions

Predictions made on 3/21/2022 at 2:30 p.m. ET.
Click on each prediction to jump to the full analysis.

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Timberwolves vs Mavericks game info

Location: American Airlines Center, Dallas, TX
Date: Monday, March 21, 2022
Tip-off: 8:30 p.m. ET
TV: Ball Sports SW-Dallas, Bally Sports North Extra

Timberwolves vs Mavericks betting preview

Key injuries

Timberwolves: Karl-Anthony Towns C (Questionable), Jaden McDaniels F (Out).
Mavericks: Reggie Bullock G (Probable), Spencer Dinwiddie G (Probable), Davis Bertans F (Questionable), Theo Pinson G (Out), Tim Hardaway Jr. G (Out).
Find our latest NBA injury reports.

Betting trend to know

The Over is 5-0 in the last five meetings between these two teams, all coming in the calendar year of 2021. Find more NBA betting trends for Timberwolves vs. Mavericks.

Timberwolves vs Mavericks picks and predictions

Our side and total predictions are based upon our analysis of the line and total in this game. Our best bet is our favorite pick across all markets.

Spread analysis

One of the reasons the NBA is such a joy to follow and gamble on is the 82-game season creates a reliable statistical model. The long season — even if it could still be shortened a bit — is a positive thing, in that regard.

But it also leads to distorted sample sizes. Trying to find the right starting point to analyze a team as it is right now can be an art on its own, and these two teams illustrate that need.

The Timberwolves started the season 3-7 straight-up and 2-8 against the spread. Since then they have gone 39-23 SU and 38-22-2 ATS. Move the cutoff point from November 11 to January 1, and Minnesota is 26-11 SU and 23-13-1 ATS, including a current 11-2 streak in both categories in its last 13.

Overall, it is clear this team is better than many realize, but just how much so depends on the sample size chosen.

Much of the same can be said for the Mavericks, who started the season 11-12 SU and 9-14 ATS. Change the starting point to December 8, the end of that struggling start, and Dallas is 32-16 SU and 28-18-1 ATS. After trading Kristraps Porzingis, Spencer Dinwiddie first entered the Mavericks lineup on February 15, and it has since gone 10-4 SU and 9-5 ATS.

Again, the ugly November set Dallas back this season, but since then, it played at what would be a 55-win pace across an entire season.

So how do you decide which sample size to lean into with either team? Dallas has looked like a completely different team with the addition of Dinwiddie and Minnesota is in a league of its own since the All-Star break.

As hard as this may be to believe, the Twolves have been the definitively better team in those recent stretches. Since the All-Star break, Minnesota ranks No. 3 in the league in offensive rating and No. 4 in defensive rating, per statmuse.com. Since acquiring Dinwiddie, Dallas ranks No. 16 in both categories.

It has solely been the play of Luka Doncic that has kept the Mavs in position for home-court advantage in the playoffs. Of course, he could take over tonight, or any night, but that defensive rating from the Timberwolves is no fluke.

Anthony Edwards has been escalating his defensive play, matching up against LeBron James, Jrue Holiday, and Khris Middleton in the last week, notching nine steals in his last four games.

Furthermore, Wolves pest Patrick Beverley was ejected merely minutes into their win against the Bucks on Saturday. He will not only be fresh but probably more annoying than usual.

Minnesota knows what is at stake this week relative to playoff seeding, and it is only at stake because the Timberwolves have been good for so long that it can no longer be met with qualifiers. They’re just too good.

Prediction: Timberwolves +2.5 (-110)

Over/Under analysis

Let’s not overthink this. The handicap above suggests the way for Dallas to compete tonight is via a classic Doncic showing. That would, obviously, boost the scoring at American Airlines Center.

Luka has scored at least 30 points in 15 of his last 21 games, a run of brilliance dating back past Dinwiddie’s addition to when Porzingis first sat out before the trade deadline. That includes four nights of at least 40 points and one more with 51. When he has to carry the Mavericks, he is clearly capable of doing so.

And tonight he will need to. While Minnesota ranks highly in both offensive and defensive team ratings, it is the former that is truly ahead of most of the league.

Since the All-Star break, the Timberwolves, Bucks, and Hornets have traded the top spot in offensive rating while staying far ahead of the rest of the pack. The current gap between the Twolves at No. 3 and the Nets at No. 5 is more than the gap between Brooklyn and Philadelphia at No. 11.

Their offense should bring the best out of Luka, and that should push this game Over any reasonable total.

Prediction: Over 230 (-108)

Best bet

Maybe this will come across as blasphemous, but the Timberwolves might be better than the Mavericks.

Obviously, going on the road makes the idea of an upset a bit tougher to believe in, but Minnesota is 5-1 ATS in its last six games on the road. The two most recent of those wins came against worthwhile opponents in the Spurs and the Heat. Beating the spread tonight would most likely mean an outright win.

At that point, let’s bet on the outright win. Let’s bet on blasphemy.

Pick: Timberwolves moneyline (+116)

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