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How Anthony Edwards and the Timberwolves can make it a series against the Mavericks

May 27th, 2024

DALLAS — The Minnesota Timberwolves dropped two home games to the Dallas Mavericks and now face the prospect of going down 0-3 should they lose Game 3 in Dallas on Sunday night. Here are three keys that could help turn the series around:

Maybe that hard fall in Game 6 of the Western Conference semifinals against Denver is hurting more than he’s letting on. Maybe the altitude of this series is too high for the moment (he needed oxygen in the second half of Game 2 and admitted to fatigue in Game 1). Either way, Edwards hasn’t played to the level he established for the first two rounds.

Shooting 33 percent is one thing, but 19 of his 33 shots are from 3-point range — too high of a 3-point diet for a devastating driver.

El base de los Timberwolves de Minnesota Anthony Edwards salta con el balón para anotar frente a Derrick Jones Jr. y Daniel Gafford de los Mavericks de Dallas en el juego 2 de las finales de la Conferencia Oeste el viernes 24 de mayo del 2024. (AP Foto/Abbie Parr)

Anthony Edwards is planning to be more aggressive in Game 3. (AP Foto/Abbie Parr)

“I’m gonna be super aggressive. I haven’t taken more than 16 shots in any game,” Edwards said after Sunday morning’s shootaround. “Y’all gonna see tonight.”

He mentioned getting to his midrange more, which would be deadly if he operated in that real estate. Dallas has done an excellent job of shutting down space in the middle of the floor, and he hasn’t gotten clean attacks to the rim to even challenge Daniel Gafford and Dereck Lively II.

More will be on him because Karl-Anthony Towns is struggling even more, shooting 28 percent and being played off the floor defensively. We know Edwards will be out there, regardless.

Edwards has appeared indecisive late in games, too — letting the double teams dictate where he goes. The coaching staff has to find a way to get him on the move with a live dribble as opposed to him staring at four sets of eyes and arms, waiting on him from 25 feet out.

He made the right basketball play in kicking it to a hot Naz Reid as time ticked away in Game 2. But maybe him shooting it, challenging the defense and living with the results was the better basketball play.

Dončić has controlled the pace and the terms in which the games have been played. That’s why Dallas is so much more comfortable in the last five minutes compared to the Timberwolves. Dončić has even been physical on the defensive end, and he’s getting leeway from the officials to be more handsy and using his body. Wearing him down hasn’t worked, especially with Kyrie Irving taking over the fourth in Game 2 before Luka concluded matters. His usage is still at 35 percent and for as much as he’s handled the ball, four turnovers in each game doesn’t seem outlandish.

The Timberwolves haven’t forced P.J. Washington or Derrick Jones Jr. to beat them offensively — it’s either Luka attacking at the rim and opening things up for Gafford or Lively, or taking it himself. Washington and Jones were a combined 0-for-7 from 3 in Game 2 — big wins for the Timberwolves’ defense, but it needs to be more of that.

The Wolves have doubled Dončić at times, but not with enough force, and he often gets back to the ball with a man advantage.

Sometimes, he’s so good he can beat the double and you have to live with that. But if they establish a more physical brand — smartly, it should be added — they may have better results in the end.

It sounds simple, and it could very well be a matter of experience versus inexperience, but the Timberwolves are feeling they should be up 2-0 as opposed to this back-to-the-wall situation. In Game 2, they squandered a five-point lead with 1:29 left to lose in regulation because of the minute things.

  • Irving’s corner triple was a scramble situation, Jaden McDaniels shading too much into an empty spot on the floor, and the rotation got nowhere near Irving in enough time before Irving unleashed a triple with 1:06 left.

  • The official’s review on McDaniels losing the ball out of bounds was simply bad luck, the ball went off him, but he was hacked, and the rules don’t allow for that type of adjudication (it should).

  • McDaniels wanted to stay on Dončić during the last play, and Rudy Gobert had a good contest, but Dončić was going to cook even the best defender in that situation. McDaniels knows he’ll avert the switch or aggressively double next time.

Hard way to learn a lesson in that spot, especially in Game 1 where they held a 102-98 lead with 3:37 left before Dončić took over and the Timberwolves had costly turnovers and couldn’t get cleanly into their offense.

These are hard things to learn in the span of two days, but it’s not an impossible task — it just feels a bit improbable. The Wolves, however, kind of specialize in such circumstances.

This content was originally sourced and posted at Yahoo! Sports – News, Scores, Standings, Rumors, Fantasy Games »
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