A Great Finish by Doncic Gives Dallas the First Victory Against Minnesota in the Western Final

Doncic Dallas Mavericks
Luka Doncic protecting the ball (Credit: Getty Images)

The Dallas Mavericks won the first game of the West final this Wednesday. Jason Kidd’s team showed authority in the last quarter of the game held at the Minnesota Timberwolves stadium. The visitors’ victory (108-105), their fifth in the postseason, fell to their two great figures, Luka Doncic and Kyrie Irving, two veteran playoff figures who scored 63 points today. The Slovenian, bleeding from his left knee, had an epic close with 15 of his 33 points and two steals in the last quarter, between these two decisive triples. Minnesota, on the other hand, saw its chance to start the series frustrated, making its home status weigh on it. This despite 24 points from Jaden McDaniels and 19 from Anthony Edwards, the Timberwolves star.

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Dallas’ victory dampened the party for Minnesota, which seeks to write a new history. The team, one of the ten that still do not know what it means to win an NBA title, has entrusted the task to a brilliant generation of players led by Karl-Anthony Townes, Edwards, and Rudy Gobert, the defensive player of the year. These have led the team to its first conference final since 2004.

Kyrie Irving stated at the beginning of the game that Dallas was looking to take advantage of the physical wear and tear of Minnesota, who had just played an intense game number seven just three days ago. The Timberwolves, however, showed no sign of fatigue. They did show, however, their appetite to win the first game of the series at home. Their determination was proven since Sunday when they began training in the Nuggets locker room minutes after eliminating them.

It was perhaps this motivation that led them to underestimate a player like Doncic. The Slovenian played at half-speed for a good part of the game. In the first half, he had converted only 6 of 14 shots, including only one triple from six attempts. With only 14 points in the first two quarters, the team’s responsibility fell on Irving, who scored 24 points in 20 minutes of play. Kyrie, who already won a ring with Cleveland in 2016, only scored six points in the second half, which was entirely Doncic’s.

The rest of Dallas recognized that Irving was the only one who was hooked on the game at the start. Daniel Gafford, despite being open, preferred to look for him and let the 32-year-old player enter the paint to score. Gafford, the center, had just one shot in the first half. The same thing happened with Derrick Jones, who had scored at least double figures in the last three games and tonight he was slow to get going and was left with only 8 points all night. Dereck Lively II, on the other hand, was the most valuable asset to come off the bench. He scored 4-4, including a powerful dunk over Gobert, after a missed shot by Doncic.

It was worth the European’s run to put his team ahead for the first time in the third quarter. By the final quarter, he had already commanded a comfortable nine-point lead. This was reduced thanks to Anthony Edwards, who made two three-pointers despite the fact that he seemed unfocused during the second half. Townes also contributed to the comeback with a long triple that once again put the locals ahead on the scoreboard.

Only 72 hours had passed since Minnesota’s win on Sunday. This Wednesday the style that has taken the third in the West to the conference final was still fresh. The Timberwolves showed rhythm and have many options every time their players have the ball. His star, Anthony Edward, continued his role from the weekend and moved the ball between his teammates. He had eleven rebounds and 8 assists. Jaden McDaniels led the team with 24 points, 19 of them in the first two quarters, tying his career high. And Naz Reid, like on Sunday, continues to prove why he is the sixth man in the league, with 15 points in 24 minutes of play.

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