Dallas pushes Minnesota to the brink of elimination after snatching Game 3

Luka Doncic and the Mavericks are one win away from securing an NBA Finals spot (mykhel.com)

By Leobert Julian A. de la Peña

The Dallas Mavericks are one win away from re-entering the NBA Finals after stunning the Minnesota Timberwolves in Game 3 of their Western Conference Finals duel, 116-107, to take a 3-0 Playoffs lead on May 27, 2024.

With the morale-boosting victory, the Mavericks are on the verge of making an NBA Finals return trip since 2011 when they were still led by their former franchise player Dirk Nowitzki who is now retired from the sport.

After two nip-and-tuck wins in Minnesota, the Mavericks moved to their home court for Game 3 and were immediately greeted by the loud cheers and chants of their home fans.

That surely energized Dallas as the squad raced to a quick 33-28 lead after the first 12 minutes of the ball game, led by the duo of Kyrie Irving and Luka Doncic who were still dominating the Minnesota defense during the drop coverages.

Dallas continued its high-octane intensity in the following quarter and survived the absence of Dereck Lively, their young and relentless center who was ruled out for the rest of the game due to a neck sprain.

With nothing still working for the struggling Timberwolves, the Mavericks once again capitalized and pushed their lead to eight points heading into the second half.

In the third quarter, the Timberwolves suddenly came alive and outscored Dallas to equalize the affair in the final frame.

Just like the first two games, the fourth quarter turned into a see-saw battle as both squads traded blows after blows.

However, in the final five minutes of the period, the Mavericks banked on a momentum-clinching 14-1 scoring run that shocked the Timberwolves.

Kyle Anderson, Minnesota’s backup power forward, became the last player for the Timberwolves to sink a field goal during the final crucial stretch of the fourth.

With the game tied at 104-all after Anderson’s leaning jumper, Dallas went on a rampage and sucked the life out of Minnesota when they took over the game and raced to a 116-105 lead.

Clutch baskets from Irving, Doncic, PJ Washington, and Daniel Gafford led the Mavericks’ final assault en route to a 3-0 Western Conference Finals lead.

With the scoring from Dallas’ super duo already evident in the series, it was Gafford who put the Timberwolves away after swatting away Mike Conley’s layup attempt that would’ve trimmed Minnesota’s deficit to just four points in the final 57 seconds of regulation.

After his huge block, Gafford handed Minnesota the exclamation point when he hammered the alley-oop slam delivered by Doncic that steered Dallas to an eight-point lead, 113-105, with only 34.8 seconds left.

Doncic and Irving top-scored for the Mavericks with 33 points each, while Washington finally bounced back after two horrendous shooting performances to cap off the win with 16 big points.

On the other hand, Anthony Edwards finally had his best offensive performance for the Timberwolves with 26 markers, nine rebounds, and nine assists, but still shot poorly from the field with 11/24.

The Mavericks will look to close out the series in four games on May 29, 2024, to be still played on their home court in the American Airlines Center.

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