Western Conference Finals: Minnesota Timberwolves (3) vs Dallas Mavericks (5)

InstaFace

The Ultimate One
SoSH Member
Sep 27, 2016
23,246
Pittsburgh, PA
Well, that happened.

NBA.com Series preview.

Schedule, times ET:

Game 1: Mavericks vs. Timberwolves, Wednesday, May 22 (8:30 p.m., TNT)
Game 2: Mavericks vs. Timberwolves, Friday, May 24 (8:30 p.m., TNT)
Game 3: Timberwolves vs. Mavericks, Sunday, May 26 (8:00 p.m, TNT)
Game 4: Timberwolves vs. Mavericks, Tuesday, May 28 (8:30 p.m, TNT)
Game 5: Mavericks vs. Timberwolves, Thursday, May 30 (8:30 p.m, TNT) *
Game 6: Timberwolves vs. Mavericks, Saturday, June 1 (8:30 p.m, TNT) *
Game 7: Mavericks vs. Timberwolves, Monday, June 3 (8:30 p.m, TNT) *

Odds (DraftKings): MIN -175, DAL +150 (implied: MIN 61%)

Short preview from Inside the NBA:

View: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=a69PQy-IVUE
 
Last edited:

wade boggs chicken dinner

Member
SoSH Member
Mar 26, 2005
31,975
For people who like defense - particularly under the "new" rules, this is the series for us. First team to 100 wins each game.

I know HRB has been pushing DAL but assuming everyone is at pretty close to good health (particularly Conley), I got to take MIN here. My initial take here is that MIN has the size to offset DAL's bigs; after dealing with the Murray/Jokic PnR for 7 games they are well-prepared to deal with Luka and Kyrie in the PnR; and MIN's role players have better offensive games than the corresponding DAL players. Gobert is going to be sitting in the paint waiting for Luka and Kyrie drives or lobs and considering what Zubac did to DAL, Gobert / KAT / Reid are bad matchups for DAL.

Hope it's the brutal slugfest that I think it's going to be and the real winner is the winner of a battle of attrition.
 

Montana Fan

Member
SoSH Member
Oct 18, 2000
9,192
Twin Bridges, Mt.
I have to lean Dallas. Their scorers are so capable and consistent. Add a defense to Kyrie and Doncic and they’re going to be a tough out.

Edwards is immature and is not in the same category as Tatum re: on court and team play. Even his mic’d up comments didn’t show him coaching up or collaborating with his teammates, just telling them what they need to do to make him better. This, on a day when he disappeared until he got a couple easy dunks in the 3Q and finally delivered some offensive value.

The Wolves got very lucky yesterday, as did the Celtics since I also think that Denver was the worst matchup for them.

I see Dallas in 6.
 

lovegtm

Member
SoSH Member
Apr 30, 2013
13,542
If Ant and KAT were better at playoff offense (in the sense of hunting matchups to force scoring or rotation), I'd pick Minnesota. And they did do some good stuff in that regard in the 2nd half yesterday!

I just trust Kyrie and Luka to do it better, and I trust Dallas' defense to drag the Wolves into the mud more often.

Going Dallas in 7, just because I think Minnesota can clamp down hard with no Jokic out there. I'll probably change this pick (I don't know in which direction yet) after seeing 1-2 games of action and what the actual pressure points turn out to be.

In general, we should start a practice of doing revised picks after game 2, particularly in 1-1 series, because you have soooo much more information then, and the resulting opinions are so much more interesting.
 

NoXInNixon

Member
SoSH Member
Mar 24, 2008
5,407
I can't be rational. The Celtics should be able to beat either of these teams. The chances of the Celtics winning the NBA title won't hinge very much on who wins this series.

And yet, if somehow the Celtics lose to the Mavs, it will one of the great disasters in all of Boston Sports History. It'll feel as bad as the Fucking Helmet Catch Game. If the Celtics don't win it this year, it will feel like they are just doomed to never win it. Also, people will now start treating Doncic like he's an all-time great talent. Some people will legitimately start asking if he will be one of the ten best players of all time by the end of his career. It'll be unbearable. And for Kyrie to get another ring, against Boston, would be a terrible gut punch. I don't think my fandom could bear it. Also also, fuck all fans of all Dallas sports teams. They're my third most hated fandom after NY and LA. The thought of them happy will piss me off.

For that reason, I want no part of Dallas in the finals. I can respect what the Wolves did in putting their team together, and if they manage to pull off a massive upset, I'll probably find a way to be happy for them and their fans.

Wolves in 5.
 

m0ckduck

Member
SoSH Member
Jul 20, 2005
2,010
While it's certainly possible (40%?) that Dallas can win, I'm not seeing how they offer a greater challenge than the one Minnesota just dispatched in Denver. Offensively, Luka and Kyrie are daunting but no more so than containing the Jokic and Murray combo. Denver's thin off the bench but had better primary supporting players in Gordon and KCP than anyone on Dallas. Denver had an obvious edge in chemistry and pedigree, if you believe in that stuff. Dallas has some moments defensively with Lively blocks and so forth, but Denver had better overall team connectedness and scheme. There's nothing that jumps out in the advanced stats that suggests Dallas is a tougher out than Denver was.

T-Wolves could certainly lose, seeing as they barely won the last series. But they deserve to be the favorites. I have MIN in 6.
 

Kliq

Member
SoSH Member
Mar 31, 2013
23,365
I think Minnesota wins the series. I think Dallas beat OKC because of a few outstanding factors that won't be the same against Minnesota.

1) Dallas had a huge size advantage against OKC, who only had Chet to really protect the rim or rebound, while Minnesota has three high quality bigs, that can contain the dangerous lobs to Lively/Gafford.

2. Dallas got almost unprecedented shooting from PJ Washington and Derrick Jones Jr.

3. OKC lacked veterans with playoff experience and it often felt like it was SGA vs the World

I think Minnesota is significantly stouter defensively, and can shut down a Dallas offense that is very heliocentric and has been relying on role players shooting very well from deep. Minnesota's offense can get pretty mucky at times too, but I think they have greater depth and can survive the lean times on offense thanks to their great defense.
 

Jed Zeppelin

Member
SoSH Member
Aug 23, 2008
52,330
Dallas have squeezed about as much juice as possible out of Lively and Gafford but like Kliq I don't think all of the same avenues will be open to them in this series. The "other guys" will really need to shoot well. Since Lively/Gafford don't shoot at all it's going to be easier for the Wolves to keep Gobert close to the paint where he can control things more effectively AND allow the rest of Minny's guys to play as aggressively as they want to. They'll live with Kyrie & Luka from the mid-range.
 

Euclis20

Member
SoSH Member
Aug 3, 2004
8,851
Imaginationland
Luka has been horribly efficient scoring so far in the playoffs (solidly worse than Tatum, as an example), and Dallas hasn't paid for it yet because they played the Clippers without Kawhi and the obviously not yet ready Thunder. If Luka doesn't figure this out, Minnesota will absolutely smother the Dallas offense.
 

HomeRunBaker

bet squelcher
SoSH Member
Jan 15, 2004
31,270
Luka has been horribly efficient scoring so far in the playoffs (solidly worse than Tatum, as an example), and Dallas hasn't paid for it yet because they played the Clippers without Kawhi and the obviously not yet ready Thunder. If Luka doesn't figure this out, Minnesota will absolutely smother the Dallas offense.
Where do you get Luka being horribly efficient? Last two games he scored 31 on 22 FGA and 29 on 15. He’s had some off nights when it seemed like his knee was really bothering him but overall he’s been phenomenal in these playoffs in generating offense for others (double digit assists in half the games) and double digit rebounds in nearly every game.
 

SteveF

Member
SoSH Member
Jul 14, 2005
2,190
53.6% TS% is poor. Luka has shot inefficiently in the playoffs. Whether that means he's been overall inefficient on offense given the assists/turnovers and just generally creating shots for the more limited offensive payers like PJ Washington and DJJ is another question.

I too favor Minnesota, but not by much. Minnesota's offensive process still scares me, and Luka is really the only offensive player left in the playoffs I trust to correctly diagnose defensive adjustments in real time.
 

Euclis20

Member
SoSH Member
Aug 3, 2004
8,851
Imaginationland
Where do you get Luka being horribly efficient? Last two games he scored 31 on 22 FGA and 29 on 15. He’s had some off nights when it seemed like his knee was really bothering him but overall he’s been phenomenal in these playoffs.
22 players have averaged 20+ ppg in the playoffs, and of that group Luka is 19th in TS% at .537 (just ahead of Brunson at .536 and Bam at .532, and way ahead of Murray at .474). Among those same 22 players averaging 20+, he's 20th in TO rate (only Lebron and Banchero have been worse).

I don't think it's all that controversial to say that he hasn't been efficient - everyone has off nights sure, but .423 from the field and .301 from 3 while having by far the most turnovers in the playoffs kind of is what it is. I'm sure his knee is bothering him, but it's the playoffs, everybody is hurt, and some guys (typically the guys who spend a lot of time grifting for fouls, Luka/Embiid/Brunson) are more likely to play up those injuries. I'm sure Ant's back was hurting yesterday after his bad fall in game 6, but because he wasn't grabbing at it after every missed shot or limping on every third possession, no one mentioned it. For all the "Dorture chamber" talk, McDaniels and Ant are better at 1v1 defense than anyone on OKC. I think this is a hard series for Luka.
 

TrapperAB

Member
SoSH Member
Nov 25, 2002
3,645
West Hartford, CT
Head initially said Dallas, figuring KAT will wilt under the pressure. But the MIN defense is legit. Reid will play a key role. Wolves in 6.

Heart says fuck both these teams. :)

Simmons//Russillo both have Minnesota beating Boston in the finals. Fuck both of those guys too.
 

HomeRunBaker

bet squelcher
SoSH Member
Jan 15, 2004
31,270
22 players have averaged 20+ ppg in the playoffs, and of that group Luka is 19th in TS% at .537 (just ahead of Brunson at .536 and Bam at .532, and way ahead of Murray at .474). Among those same 22 players averaging 20+, he's 20th in TO rate (only Lebron and Banchero have been worse).

I don't think it's all that controversial to say that he hasn't been efficient - everyone has off nights sure, but .423 from the field and .301 from 3 while having by far the most turnovers in the playoffs kind of is what it is. I'm sure his knee is bothering him, but it's the playoffs, everybody is hurt, and some guys (typically the guys who spend a lot of time grifting for fouls, Luka/Embiid/Brunson) are more likely to play up those injuries. I'm sure Ant's back was hurting yesterday after his bad fall in game 6, but because he wasn't grabbing at it after every missed shot or limping on every third possession, no one mentioned it. For all the "Dorture chamber" talk, McDaniels and Ant are better at 1v1 defense than anyone on OKC. I think this is a hard series for Luka.
Everyone should read this, not to say that the numbers you cite aren’t accurate, but as a learning example of how certain numbers lie when not taken in full context.
 

radsoxfan

Member
SoSH Member
Aug 9, 2009
14,139
I lean Minn.

Luka and Kyrie are really good but I don't see them being enough, the rest of the lineup is pretty offensively challenged. And I know the Dallas D has made a huge turnaround, but I still see them a solid step behind the Wolves there.

If Edwards has an average or better series, I think they take it. If he has a bunch of 30% shooting nights, maybe not.

As an aside, wonder what Grant Williams thinks about all of this....
 

The Social Chair

Member
SoSH Member
Feb 17, 2010
6,354
I lean Minnesota. KAT is having his "Andrew Wiggins 2022" moment where he finally lives up to his potential and then sees a regression the next season.

I'm still annoyed Wiggins played like that in the finals.
 

Euclis20

Member
SoSH Member
Aug 3, 2004
8,851
Imaginationland
Everyone should read this, not to say that the numbers you cite aren’t accurate, but as a learning example of how certain numbers lie when not taken in full context.
I'd welcome the full context. It's ok to say that Luka has played well (surprisingly OK most of the time defensively) while still being inefficient offensively (I think Tatum has played great these playoffs, even as his outside shooting has been terrible). Of the 4 remaining teams, Dallas is a distant 4th in offensive rating so far in the playoffs. If we want to make excuses for Luka's shooting and turnovers (injuries), ok. Unless he's gonna get healthy between now and Wednesday, I don't think it changes anything.
 

bigq

Member
SoSH Member
Jul 15, 2005
11,697
My heart wants Dallas to lose decisively in embarrassing fashion. Skipping ahead to the Finals and assuming the Celtics advance, my head wants the team that has the highest likelihood of beating the Celtics to be eliminated. I think Minnesota has a better chance of beating the Celtics in a 7 game series than Dallas does.

I am conflicted but there is no way in hell I can root for Dallas so I am on the Timberwolves bus. Minnesota in 6.
 

Tony C

Moderator
Moderator
SoSH Member
Apr 13, 2000
13,802
Gobert's weaknesses were shown by his inability to take on Jokic and needing to just be a help defender (though obviously a very good one). But I suspect he's pretty much a perfect defensive weapon vs the Mavs. He'll be able to help on Luka/Kyrie drives and he does that better than anyone else. Gafford/Lively's offense is all about rim runs and put backs, but Gobert is the perfect antidote to that, too.

Minnesota has excellent exterior defense and while Luka/Kyrie will obviously get theirs, I suspect Minn will pick them up high and put a ton of pressure on them. Washington and Hardaway will need to be excellent to counteract that, and I'm not putting money on that.

I'll say Wolves in 6, and wouldn't be shocked if it's 5 (of course, I also wouldn't be shocked if I'm dead wrong).
 

wade boggs chicken dinner

Member
SoSH Member
Mar 26, 2005
31,975
Kevin Pelton said on Lowe's podcast that when he was researching front lines, he found DAL has very large splits between performing against small front courts (good) and performing against large front courts (bad). I had to turn off the podcast at this point so I don't know if he cites any numbers but it matches what I've seen in the playoffs.

Also, PJ Washington is a career 35.4% 3P shooter. He's shooting 46.9% for this playoffs. Derrick Jones Jr. is a career 31.6% 3P shooter (which is largely why he was available for the minimum). He's shooting 37.5% for the playoffs. If I were a gambler, I'd be willing to bet that because of MIN's defense, both are going to shoot lower than what they shot against LAC and OKC. I have no way of knowing how much worse they are going to shoot but if both of them shoot below their career averages, DAL is going to lose.
 

j-man

Member
Dec 19, 2012
3,814
Arkansas
MINN wins they shut down phx and den while dallas only beat the clips becaust they were hurt and only beat okc because they were too young

woles in 7

and by the way if boston does not win it all this year the coach has to go
 

Leon Trotsky

Member
SoSH Member
Jul 18, 2005
2,846
Boston, MA
I think Wolves in 7. Their offense is very one dimensional and Ant will have trouble against the length of the Mavs. I think they'll pull if off in the end, but the Mavs and TW seem pretty well matched to me. Either way I hope many miles and minor ouchies are put on them all.
 

Jimbodandy

Member
SoSH Member
Jan 31, 2006
12,312
around the way
Everyone should read this, not to say that the numbers you cite aren’t accurate, but as a learning example of how certain numbers lie when not taken in full context.
This will sound like a shot, but I don't mean it that way. I actually admire how you stick to your guns despite a mountain of evidence backing the point to which you're disagreeing.

Nobody is saying that Luka played badly on offense, just that he was very inefficient. Efficency isn't everything of course. And Luka had efficient games. But I don't see why it's so easy to dismiss the concern that it might catch up to him...except your religious devotion to one way ball dominant guards.
 

RG33

Certain Class of Poster
SoSH Member
Nov 28, 2005
7,384
CA
Yeah, I have to say that I’m on the “Luka is overrated (relatively speaking) and hasn’t played great” train as well.

I think Minny is going to be a hard matchup for them. Their size will be tough for Dallas I think and their defense is stout as others have mentioned.

I am going with Minny in 6.
 

HomeRunBaker

bet squelcher
SoSH Member
Jan 15, 2004
31,270
This will sound like a shot, but I don't mean it that way. I actually admire how you stick to your guns despite a mountain of evidence backing the point to which you're disagreeing.

Nobody is saying that Luka played badly on offense, just that he was very inefficient. Efficency isn't everything of course. And Luka had efficient games. But I don't see why it's so easy to dismiss the concern that it might catch up to him...except your religious devotion to one way ball dominant guards.
That would make sense if I was a Doncic apologist which I am not. I get that people hate his game and hate Kyrie’s game so nitpicking one area that was only accurate in a couple games when he was super efficient in many games and so good in this series as a whole is annoying to read that’s all. I had a vested interest in Dallas winning last series and I found a new appreciation for many of the little things he did to setup his teammates and how he defended in this series. He was far from a one-way ball dominant player in those 6 games but he whines and works the refs so everyone hates him. That stuff is noise to me.
 

Ed Hillel

Wants to be startin somethin
SoSH Member
Dec 12, 2007
45,935
Here
I think this is a 50-50 series, but I’m picking the Mavs because the media machine is obsessed with the Wolves and it would be funny.

Better matchup for Boston, too.
 

DennyDoyle'sBoil

Found no thrill on Blueberry Hill
SoSH Member
Sep 9, 2008
43,964
AZ
Wolves are appreciably better to my admittedly untrained eye. I also think that series win was the kind you accelerate out of. Wolves in 5.
 

HomeRunBaker

bet squelcher
SoSH Member
Jan 15, 2004
31,270
I’d be fine with a repeat of the first 3 series as a Celtics fan. Win by gentleman’s sweep, although I’d really prefer the brooms, and let the other side of the bracket fight it out in 7 even though I my official pick is Dallas wins in 6.
 

lovegtm

Member
SoSH Member
Apr 30, 2013
13,542
I’d be fine with a repeat of the first 3 series as a Celtics fan. Win by gentleman’s sweep, although I’d really prefer the brooms, and let the other side of the bracket fight it out in 7 even though I my official pick is Dallas wins in 6.
The LeBron "I've been in hard situations, and this isn't a hard situation" 6-game result is also very much in play imo.
 

slamminsammya

Member
SoSH Member
Jul 31, 2006
10,352
San Francisco
Wolves in 6. I think Doncic will have a good series but KI will show for the fraud he is and the shooters will revert to mean.
Fraud? i dislike the guy as much as anyone but how can you hit one of the biggest shots in finals history and still get the fraud label? i mean i assume you’re talking about on the court.
 

88 MVP

Member
SoSH Member
Dec 25, 2007
552
WNY
Seriously - Kyrie put up 25-5-5 this year on 60% TS and was not a distraction at all. This was maybe one of Kyrie’s best full seasons as a pro.
 

HomeRunBaker

bet squelcher
SoSH Member
Jan 15, 2004
31,270
Fraud? i dislike the guy as much as anyone but how can you hit one of the biggest shots in finals history and still get the fraud label? i mean i assume you’re talking about on the court.
Plus how he’s transformed his game to the Mavs culture to be defending at a high level in these playoffs. Wild
 

lovegtm

Member
SoSH Member
Apr 30, 2013
13,542
People are butthurt that he quit on the Cs, I get it

But he's been really really good for Dallas this postseason
 

Euclis20

Member
SoSH Member
Aug 3, 2004
8,851
Imaginationland
He's been really good for Dallas since they acquired him. This is the guy that should have spent the last decade competing with Lillard for the title of 2nd best point guard in the league, instead he's behaved erratically (to be kind), been hurt frequently, and burned multiple teams without having an impact on the playoffs since 2017. He's looked great wherever he's played, until he [very suddenly] isn't.

Seems unlikely that it will go sour in the next couple of weeks, absent an injury. Minnesota does have quite the group of defenders to make life hard for him, and him getting outplayed doesn't automatically make him a fraud.
 

InstaFace

The Ultimate One
SoSH Member
Sep 27, 2016
23,246
Pittsburgh, PA
Dallas is certainly getting what they hoped they were bargaining for in their trade for him. Poor Brooklyn Nets, bought high and sold low yet again.

Their run is also forcing me to re-evaluate my dim opinion of Jason Kidd as a coach, which I really don't want to do.
 

Auger34

used to be tbb
SoSH Member
Apr 23, 2010
11,306
I can’t stand Kyrie, Luka or Kidd.

I’m also pretty annoyed at how everyone is crowning the Wolves as champions already….

Don’t know who I am going to root for but I go Wolbes in 7
 

TrapperAB

Member
SoSH Member
Nov 25, 2002
3,645
West Hartford, CT
People are butthurt that he quit on the Cs, I get it

But he's been really really good for Dallas this postseason
He has… and yet, can anyone (including Dallas) feel confident that he won’t pull some BS if a series (WCF or NBAF) starts going sideways? Ant starts torching him, but he refuses to let Kidd switch his assignment… pissing off Luka by jacking up bad shots because he wants to be the hero when they’re losing in the 4th down 2-1 in the series… pulling a “I’ve got Giannis” and insisting on covering Tatum if Dallas and Boston meet in the finals?

He’s been legit great for Dallas this year… but everything is in play with this guy, right? High ceiling… lowest floor of pretty much every starter left in the playoffs (not because of talent but because of his mercurial psyche).
 

lovegtm

Member
SoSH Member
Apr 30, 2013
13,542
He has… and yet, can anyone (including Dallas) feel confident that he won’t pull some BS if a series (WCF or NBAF) starts going sideways? Ant starts torching him, but he refuses to let Kidd switch his assignment… pissing off Luka by jacking up bad shots because he wants to be the hero when they’re losing in the 4th down 2-1 in the series… pulling a “I’ve got Giannis” and insisting on covering Tatum if Dallas and Boston meet in the finals?

He’s been legit great for Dallas this year… but everything is in play with this guy, right? High ceiling… lowest floor of pretty much every starter left in the playoffs (not because of talent but because of his mercurial psyche).
He hasn't really been mercurial outside of the vaccine thing and his extremely not-good Jewish stuff. Which, I get it: "other than that, Mrs Lincoln, how was the play?"

But post-Boston, I don't know that he's given reason to think he'll implode at any moment.
 

InstaFace

The Ultimate One
SoSH Member
Sep 27, 2016
23,246
Pittsburgh, PA
He hasn't really been mercurial outside of the vaccine thing and his extremely not-good Jewish stuff. Which, I get it: "other than that, Mrs Lincoln, how was the play?"

But post-Boston, I don't know that he's given reason to think he'll implode at any moment.
Other than him shooting his way out of Cleveland, and then the Black Hebrew Israelite thing to implode his way out of Brooklyn, while also being on indefinite suspension from the team (which happened to be located in the greatest concentration of Jews outside of Israel itself)? Other than those?
 

cheech13

Member
SoSH Member
Jan 5, 2006
1,678
Kyrie has baggage but I don’t think it’s fair to put 100% of the blame on him for requesting a trade out of Cleveland. By all accounts David Griffin was shooing him as soon as the 2017 Finals ended and wound have shipped him out on draft day if he didn’t get fired.
 

lovegtm

Member
SoSH Member
Apr 30, 2013
13,542
Other than him shooting his way out of Cleveland, and then the Black Hebrew Israelite thing to implode his way out of Brooklyn, while also being on indefinite suspension from the team (which happened to be located in the greatest concentration of Jews outside of Israel itself)? Other than those?
I explicitly acknowledged that there was a window of time in Brooklyn that got quite bad.

Since then, it's been a pretty quiet 2 years. Why do people think he'll get "mercurial" during the WCF?
 

timelysarcasm

Member
SoSH Member
Jul 23, 2010
1,757
Los Angeles by way of Roxbury
I explicitly acknowledged that there was a window of time in Brooklyn that got quite bad.

Since then, it's been a pretty quiet 2 years. Why do people think he'll get "mercurial" during the WCF?
I agree, and "lowest floor of any starter left in the playoffs" is a huge stretch. He's been great since he got traded to Dallas (and I'd argue in Brooklyn, as well, strictly speaking on-court) and fantastic this postseason when Luka has had stretches of playing like ass (injury or not). He's done a good job of getting Dallas's non-Luka players involved early in games and then he steps up in crunch time. Why would he suddenly implode? He seems happy, engaged, and in a legitimately good spot.

I find this series hard to call, personally. I think Dallas's defense is being a tiny bit underrated and Minnesota's offense a bit overrated.