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Week ahead: Opponents missing stars vs. Mavs

A quick look at the Mavericks' four foes this week:

Minnesota Timberwolves (7:30 p.m., Monday, American Airlines Center): The Timberwolves are off to a surprising 4-2 start despite the absences of their two marquee players, point guard Ricky Rubio and power forward Kevin Love. Center Nikola Pekovic leads Minnesota with 14.5 points per game, but the Wolves are winning with defense. Minnesota is allowing 89.5 points per game, the fifth-lowest in the league. Ex-Mavericks guard J.J. Barea is questionable with a sprained foot.

Washington Wizards (7:30 p.m., Wednesday, American Airlines Center): The winless Wizards play in Charlotte the night before their game against the Mavs. Washington had been a bad team with John Wall, and they’re significantly worse without their injured former No. 1 overall pick. Rookie lottery pick Bradley Beal leads the Wizards with 13.0 points per game, but he’s shooting less than 40 percent from the floor. Washington ranks last in the league in scoring (88.0 points per game) and 25th in field goal percentage (41.4).

Indiana Pacers (6 p.m., Friday, Conseco Fieldhouse): The 3-4 Pacers are trying to survive without star small forward Danny Granger. They’re struggling to score, averaging only 90.4 points per game, led by power forward David West’s 16.8. Center Roy Hibbert is off to an especially slow start, averaging only 8.7 points and shooting 38.4 percent from the floor. This will be Mavs point guard Darren Collison’s return to Indiana, which considered him expendable after giving George Hill the starting point guard job late last season. Hill is averaging 15.1 points and 5.1 assists per game.

Cleveland Cavaliers (6:30 p.m., Saturday, Quicken Loans Arena): Kyrie Irving, last season’s Rookie of the Year, is the best player the Mavs will see this week. It won’t be long before his name comes up in conversations about the league’s elite point guards. He’s averaging 23.3 points and 6.5 assists per game. Anderson Varejao (14.0 ppg, 14.0 rpg) could have a big game against the rebounding-challenged Mavs. The Cavs are one of the NBA’s worst defensive team, ranking 27th in the league with 103 points allowed per game.