the Mavericks two games from the Finals • Basket USA

the Mavericks two games from the Finals • Basket USA
the Mavericks two games from the Finals • Basket USA

After their defeat at home in Game 1, the Wolves had no choice but to bounce back from Game 2, and always in front of their home crowd. A mission that they were unable to fulfill, because the Mavericks came to hold them in the last moments (109-108) to find themselves two victories away from the 2024 Finals!

The hero of the evening on the Texan side is called as often Luka Doncic : 32 points, 13 assists, 10 rebounds and the “game-winner” 3 seconds from the end, in front of the immense arms of Rudy Gobert (16 points, 10 rebounds)! Supported by his friend Kyrie Irving (20 points, 6 assists) and the doublet Daniel GaffordDerek Lively II (30 points, 14 rebounds, 5 cumulative blocks), “Luka Magic” stunned Naz Reid (23 points), Anthony Edwards (21 points, 7 assists, 5 rebounds), Mike Conley (18 points, 5 rebounds, 5 assists) and others.

Dallas therefore leads 2-0 in this conference final, after counting up to… 18 points behind in the game, and the next two meetings in the series will take place in Texas. Minnesota will have to be very, very big to turn things around at the American Airlines Center after this painful defeat…

Minnesota bites but leaves Dallas alive

The start of the match is balanced, with the Wolves relying on free throws from the aggressive Anthony Edwards and 3-pointers from Naz Reid, while the Mavericks rely on the offensive vista of Luka Doncic to alternate inside and outside play (32-26).

The second quarter marks a first turning point in the game, because Dallas no longer finds a solution on attack for almost five minutes and Minnesota, even dominated on the rebound, unleashes 3-pointers to increase the gap. With Naz Reid, him again, but also Mike Conley. At -18 on the scoreboard, the Mavs’ defense feeds their attack and they can count on this successful end of the half to limit the damage at the break (60-48).

Much more inspired in attack, Luka Doncic gets back on track and, between his ever more varied scoring and his well-felt passes for his interiors, he brings the Mavericks back into the match. The Wolves machine begins to stall, especially when Mike Conley sits on the bench to take a breather. The trio Anthony Edwards – Karl-Anthony Towns – Rudy Gobert is struggling and doubt seems to be settling in the heads of Chris Finch’s men, who however retain the lead (86-79).

Kyrie Irving and Luka Doncic, air conditioners

The fourth quarter resembles a gunslingers duel between Naz Reid and Kyrie Irving at 3-points. The intensity is at its highest, the two teams go blow for blow because the gap is closed, and we are heading towards an unbearable “money-time” (96-96), while the referees whistle less. On the one hand, the Doncic/Irving pair serves the Gafford/Lively II duo for easy baskets in the paint. On the other, Anthony Edwards and Mike Conley fight each other for points on the line or in the racket.

A surprising 0/2 from Kyrie Irving on shots is offset by yet another 3-pointer to bring Dallas back to one possession. After a new challenge successful by Jason Kidd and the loss of the ball by Anthony Edwards who continues to stutter his game, the Mavs find themselves with a ball to equalize or go ahead…

In isolation against DPOY Rudy Gobert, Luka Doncic takes charge of air conditioning the Target Center with a “stepback-3” with 3 seconds to go! On the final possession, Edwards shifted Naz Reid behind the arc but he failed for the second time of the evening from long distance and Minnesota lost on the wire (109-108). What a Game 2!

WHAT YOU MUST REMEMBER

Luka Doncic, “for the win”. Like the Celtics in the East, the Mavericks are only two victories away from the Finals and they owe it largely to Luka Doncic, their Slovenian genius (who certainly received the support of Kyrie Irving at 13 points in the last twelve minutes). Not content with signing his 8th triple-double in the playoffs, Doncic took the liberty of scoring the “game-winner” 3 seconds from the end, to air-condition the Target Center. In leadership, the contrast with Anthony Edwards is striking and he seems capable of overturning mountains despite a broken knee and ankle. That shows the quality of the guy…

Anthony Edwards and Karl-Anthony Towns disappoint again. Naz Reid’s 3-pointers will have long masked the difficulties of the Edwards/Towns duo, who barely have 36 points at 9/33 shooting. It is once again insufficient and disappointing, after the 35 points at 12/36 shooting in Game 1, especially since the “money-time” reinforced the feeling of failure of the two men in this conference final . Indeed, Karl-Anthony Towns spent the last nine minutes (!) on the bench and Anthony Edwards seemed too hesitant offensively, despite a few throws. Especially wasting the last ball which could have put Minnesota away…

Minnesota faces history. In the NBA, only 34 teams out of 456 came back from 0-2 to win their playoff series. The problem is that only 5 of these 34 teams have done so having lost the first two games at home: the 1969 Lakers, the 1994 Rockets, the 2005 Mavericks, the 2017 Celtics and the 2021 Clippers. In the previous round , the Nuggets did not come far from becoming the sixth team against… the Wolves, but the latter escaped in Game 7. Here they are now faced with the same challenge and, historically, there has been no comeback of this type in the conference final or the NBA final…

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