NBA Conference Finals

West kings: Mavericks crush Wolves, advance to finals


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West kings: Mavericks crush Wolves, advance to finals

FINALS MODE. Mavericks guard Luka Doncic celebrates after winning the Western Conference championship against the Timberwolves in Game 5.

Jesse Johnson/USA TODAY Sports/Reuters

Luka Doncic and the Mavericks end the Timberwolves’ magical run this season to rule the West conference and book a finals spot against the Celtics

Luka Doncic allowed himself one night to celebrate.

On Thursday night, the 25-year-old superstar lifted the Dallas Mavericks into the NBA Finals for the first time since 2011.

Doncic finished with 36 points, 10 rebounds, and 5 assists, and the Dallas Mavericks pulled away for a 124-103 win over the Minnesota Timberwolves in Minneapolis on May 30 (Friday, May 31, Manila time) to advance to the NBA Finals.

“There’s still four games to win left,” Doncic said on the TNT broadcast. “But this is amazing. We should enjoy tonight because this is special. Especially coming from the West, we had to go through a lot in the season, up and down. But we stayed together.”

The Mavericks eliminated the Timberwolves in five games in the best-of-seven Western Conference finals. Dallas will play the Boston Celtics for the title in a seven-game series that is scheduled to begin June 6 in Boston.

This marks Dallas’ first appearance in the NBA Finals since 2011, when Dirk Nowitzki led the franchise to its first and only championship.

Kyrie Irving finished with 36 points on 14-for-27 shooting for the Mavericks. PJ Washington contributed 12 points and 7 rebounds.

Karl-Anthony Towns scored 28 points and pulled down 12 rebounds to lead Minnesota. 

Anthony Edwards also finished with 28 points for the Timberwolves, whose magical season ended after winning 56 games in the regular season and reaching the conference finals for the first time since 2004.

“I just wish it didn’t end like that,” forward Naz Reid said.

Doncic took command in the first quarter to give Dallas the lead for good.

The Mavericks’ 25-year-old superstar poured in 20 points in the first quarter. He helped Dallas finish the quarter on a 17-1 run to grab a 35-19 lead.

Doncic scored 8 consecutive points during the run with a step-back jump shot and back-to-back three-pointers. He assisted on the final play of the quarter as Irving made a driving layup with one second to go.

“My mindset was just, ‘Set a tone,'” Doncic said. “I know if I was going to go off in the first quarter, they were going to start doubling me, and then it was going to open for everybody.”

Dallas continued its dominance in the second quarter as it outscored the Timberwolves, 34-21. That gave the Mavericks a 69-40 advantage at the break.

The Timberwolves trailed 97-73 at the end of the third quarter. Towns scored 5 points in a row late in the quarter with two free throws and a three-pointer, but Doncic closed the scoring with a pull-up jumper.

Minnesota never threatened in the fourth quarter. Irving hit a step-back three-pointer to increase Dallas’ lead to 108-80 with 8:09 remaining.

With the game out of hand, Doncic grinned from the bench and wore a towel around his shoulders as his teammates finished the final few minutes.

The Celtics likely will be favored in the championship series, but Doncic said the key was simple for Dallas to have a chance to hoist the trophy at the end of the series.

“I think [it’s] our defense,” Doncic said. “They’re the best team in the NBA. They have some incredible weapons. So, I think our defense is going to be the key.”

Meanwhile, the Timberwolves dealt with an abrupt ending to an ascendant season.

But Edwards said, “We’ll be back next year.”


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