DALLAS -- The phrase "trap game" is part of the sports lexicon for a reason.
Take Team A. Team A is playing very well of late, say, riding a six-game win streak. On the horizon still two days away is a big road game at Team C, which is also doing very well of late, say, with also a six-game win streak. But, before that game, lurks a home game against Team B, which Team A routinely defeats and is one of the legendary bottom-feeders in the league. In other words, it's a game Team A expects to win.
That's the case tonight for the Dallas Mavericks (13-4) as they play host to the Minnesota Timberwolves (4-13), who are 1-8 on the road. Looking ahead, the Mavs have the season's first matchup with the Utah Jazz in always difficult Salt Lake City on Friday night.
But, that doesn't mean Team B, the T-Wolves, can't be dangerous. Kevin Love recently put up a 31-point, 31-rebound night. Michasel Beasley is averaging more than 21 points a game and Darko Milicic at times plays as though he has a clue.
"We're not looking ahead. This is a team that beat us in here last year once and came close to beating us a second time in here. They shot the ball extremely well in this building, they played us extremely tough and so we're not taking anything for granted."
The Mavs have won 15 of 16 meetings with Minnesota and eight of nine at home. But, the T-Wolves bit them on Feb. 5 of last season, 117-108. That one would not have gone down as a true trap game. The Mavs were in the process of dropping six of eight with the Minnesota hiccup being the fourth loss in the stretch.
Now, March 3 is a different story. The Mavs were just coming off an eighth consecutive win at Charlotte. And while the awful Sacramento Kings were next in line and a more anticipated matchup, it would have been easy to overlook the T-Wolves at home. Dallas almost did, escaping with a 112-109 win.
Rather than drag a disappointing loss to Utah, the Mavs would prefer to carry a seven-game win streak into Salt Lake. Dallas has dropped its last five games there, is 3-10 in its last 13 trips and just 15-55 all-time against the Jazz on their home floor.