Dallas Mavericks, minnesota timberwolves, NBA Playoffs

Mavs-Wolves Predictions: Timberwolves Take Series in Six Games in Western Conference Finals

Who would have guessed that the Dallas Mavericks and the Minnesota Timberwolves would be the ones squaring off in the Western Conference Finals?  Both Dallas and Minnesota have been playing so well going into the playoffs. Even so most basketball predictions had one or both the Denver Nuggets or Oklahoma City Thunder in the Western Conference Finals.

But we’re here now and the Timberwolves-Mavericks matchup might have seemed improbable at the season’s start, it’s shaping up to be an very interesting series with two different approaches. The Timberwolves secured their first conference finals berth since 2004 with a dramatic Game 7 comeback against the reigning champion Denver Nuggets. Meanwhile, the Mavericks pulled off their own upset, toppling the top-seeded Oklahoma City Thunder in Game 6 to reach their second conference finals in three years.

KAT, Gobert and Naz Reid

Minnesota’s strategy against the Nuggets involved shutting down everyone around Nikola Jokic, with Rudy Gobert, Naz Reid  and Karl-Anthony Towns anchoring the effort. As Anthony Edwards and Jaden McDaniels frustrated Jamal Murray, the formidable frontcourt trio gave Jokic different looks and was pivotal in the crucial Game 7 comeback. Against Dallas, Minnesota’s size, length and ability to hit the three provides a distinct advantage.

Dallas counters with the athleticism of Daniel Gafford and Dereck Lively II, who excel as lob threats. However, with Gobert guarding the paint, these opportunities may be scarce. The absence of Maxi Kleber, who can stretch the floor, means the Mavericks will rely heavily on offensive rebounding. Lively’s hustle on the boards was instrumental against the Thunder, and Dallas leads the remaining playoff teams in offensive rebounds and second-chance points.

The choice between starting Gafford or Lively could be critical. Lively’s mobility and defensive energy make him a strong candidate to challenge Gobert and defend perimeter shots, suggesting he might get the start in this pivotal series.

PJ Washington or Jaden McDaniels?

Dallas advanced past OKC thanks to significant contributions from PJ Washington and Derrick Jones Jr., who provided much-needed support for Luka Doncic. To contend with the Timberwolves, they, along with Josh Green and Tim Hardaway Jr., need to put the pressure on the Wolves’ defense. We saw how the Timberwolves defensive strategy not only mucked up the best two-man game in the game with Jokic and Murray, but recovered to not allow Aaron Gordon or Michael Porter Jr. to get the shots they’re comfortable in their offense.

Minnesota, on the other hand, will look to Jaden McDaniels, Mike Conley, Sixth Man of the Year Naz Reid, and Nickeil Alexander-Walker for consistent performances. The Wolves need these role players to step up and prevent the series from becoming the Anthony Edwards and Karl-Anthony Towns show. Alexander-Walker, in particular, needs to rediscover his shooting touch from deep to boost Minnesota’s offense.

When it comes down to it, will Washington or McDaniels make as much of an imprint on the game as they did in the quarterfinals? Their impact on the defensive end is as important in this series with perimeter players Doncic, Irving and Ant Edwards leading their respective squads.

Speaking of the Stars

While role players are crucial, the series will ultimately hinge on the stars. Doncic faces a tough matchup against the defensive McDaniels who gave him trouble the last time the teams met. The Mavericks may try to exploit mismatches by pulling Gobert or Towns into switches against Doncic. If Minnesota employs double teams on Doncic and Irving,

After a quiet series against the Thunder, Kyrie Irving needs to be more assertive, especially if the Wolves focus on Doncic. ON the Timberwolves side, Edwards and Towns must capitalize on their matchups. Edwards has been efficient, save for a poor Game 7 against Denver, and Towns must take advantage of the mismatches in Dallas’ defense. We know they’ll double Doncic and at times, Irving so Washington, Green, Jones Jr., and Hardaway Jr. must rise to the occasion if Dallas is to stand a chance.

Mavs-Wolves Predictions: Wolves in Six

This will be a very interesting series. There’s no doubt that Minnesota is the more well-rounded team with a talented starting five in Conley, Ant, McDaniels, KAT and Gobert and a much more formidable bench with Naz Reid, Kyle Anderson, and Alexander-Walker.  On top of that, the Wolves are playing at their highest level all season. While Dallas is also ascending, outside of Irving and Doncic, they don’t have a lot of others creating offense for them. If both teams play up to their potential, we still believe that the Timberwolves will win this series in six games – four games to two.

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