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

HomeRunBaker

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This Minnesota crunchtime offense is one of the worst I've ever seen. If anything, the process is even worse than the results. It makes the Ime Celtics look like 5 Steph Currys. Just totally unwatchable.
Why does everyone refuse to create Dallas’ defense and taking away most good looks whenever anyone puts the ball on the floor. Kyrie’s defense is being so overlooked, the Doncic talk is borderline ridiculous at times and Kidd is really showing out for the schemes he’s using. I know Celtics fans generally hate all 3 but it hasn’t only been Minnesota unable to score the ball (my inner Hubie Brown) against them.
 

lovegtm

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Why does everyone refuse to create Dallas’ defense and taking away most good looks whenever anyone puts the ball on the floor. Kyrie’s defense is being so overlooked, the Doncic talk is borderline ridiculous at times and Kidd is really showing out for the schemes he’s using. I know Celtics fans generally hate all 3 but it hasn’t only been Minnesota unable to score the ball (my inner Hubie Brown) against them.
I think Dallas is good on D. I also think that Minnesota has looked insanely out of sorts.

I'm getting tired of the "Dallas is good at offense and defense" disclaimer, so just assume it's written on all of my posts.
 

HomeRunBaker

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I think Dallas is good on D. I also think that Minnesota has looked insanely out of sorts.
Correlation? I mean the Clippers and Thunder’s offense looked out of sorts much of their series as well. There is one common denominator there and whether my rating had Dallas’ defense #1 in the league at the end of the regular season or 5th or 8th or whatever people rate them….it’s been nothing short of elite in these three series.
 

slamminsammya

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Correlation? I mean the Clippers and Thunder’s offense looked out of sorts much of their series as well. There is one common denominator there and whether my rating had Dallas’ defense #1 in the league at the end of the regular season or 5th or 8th or whatever people rate them….it’s been nothing short of elite in these three series.
Mavs defensive rating now sits at 8th in the playoffs out of 16 teams. Its a good defense given the teams they've faced but I think it actually has been short of elite. Its not enough to just say its been good?
 

Justthetippett

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This Minnesota crunchtime offense is one of the worst I've ever seen. If anything, the process is even worse than the results. It makes the Ime Celtics look like 5 Steph Currys. Just totally unwatchable.
And that's been the series. Three close games, three times Dallas has found a way to execute at the end and Minnesota has not. It's really been that simple.
 

HowBoutDemSox

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I just keep thinking back to the moment in game 2, after Dallas’ first made basket, when Minnesota had to take a timeout at 11:30 in the first quarter because four Timberwolves ran down court and there was no on left to receive the inbound. That’s not a team with any idea of what they want to do when they have the ball, at literally the least pressure-filled point in the game. Contrast that with even Indiana, who know they want to run and so needs to get the ball in quickly and push the pace and seem well organized and purposeful after every made bucket, and it’s easy to see how Minnesota couldn’t get their act together to score in crunch time when it mattered down the stretch.
 

HomeRunBaker

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Mavs defensive rating now sits at 8th in the playoffs out of 16 teams. Its a good defense given the teams they've faced but I think it actually has been short of elite. Its not enough to just say its been good?
No bc my rating has had them much much better than good for a long time now.


Strong disagree on this. I would venture more than half the analysts take Dallas.
We’ll see I guess. I wouldn’t expect this. They usually don’t make bold statements that could backfire against them so badly with high risk picks.
 

jsinger121

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There is no way that half the analysts will take Dallas against a 64 win Boston team that swept the Mavericks in the regular season with one game without KP and one with. Also the Mavericks will be the lowest seeded western conference team to reach the finals in almost 3 decades since the 95 Rockets. Dallas is on nice run but to me they have kinda had it pretty easy as well, not Boston Celtics easy but fairly easy with a notorious playoff loser in the Clippers, a young and not ready for prime time OKC team and now a Minnesota team that looks to have blown its load in the Denver series.
 

m0ckduck

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Also the Mavericks will be the lowest seeded western conference team to reach the finals in almost 3 decades since the 95 Rockets. Dallas is on nice run but to me they have kinda had it pretty easy as well, not Boston Celtics easy but fairly easy with a notorious playoff loser in the Clippers, a young and not ready for prime time OKC team and now a Minnesota team that looks to have blown its load in the Denver series.
Mavs began a 24-9 run to close the regular season on Feb 5th. Best team point differential since Feb 5th:

4. Dallas +209
3. Denver +217
2. Minnesota +218
1. Boston +448 (LOL)

Obviously this is just one data point, but it supports your suggestion: that the Nuggets, Wolves and Mavs have been similar teams for the last four months, Dallas is benefitting from playing the beat-up survivor from the other two, and Boston is head and shoulders above.
 

jsinger121

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Mavs began a 24-9 run to close the regular season on Feb 5th. Best team point differential since Feb 5th:

4. Dallas +209
3. Denver +217
2. Minnesota +218
1. Boston +448 (LOL)

Obviously this is just one data point, but it supports your suggestion: that the Nuggets, Wolves and Mavs have been similar teams for the last four months, Dallas is benefitting from playing the beat-up survivor from the other two, and Boston is head and shoulders above.
And one of the losses in that 24-9 stretch was a 28 point loss to the Celtics despite Doncic having a triple double.
 

lovegtm

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Correlation? I mean the Clippers and Thunder’s offense looked out of sorts much of their series as well. There is one common denominator there and whether my rating had Dallas’ defense #1 in the league at the end of the regular season or 5th or 8th or whatever people rate them….it’s been nothing short of elite in these three series.
I recall a number of plays down the stretch where Minny would try something initially, I'd be like "oh, good stuff to snuff that out, Dallas", and then the Wolves would just give up.

The contrast between that and a better-coached offense like Indy trying to break down Boston late is pretty stark.

Anyway, if the Celtics want to beat the Mavs, they will need to bring their A-game offensively, because Dallas handles basic attacks of its "weak links" quite well.
 

Kliq

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HRB having his own, secret metrics that tell him different things is awesome.

A Dallas vs Boston series will really come down to how well Washington/DJJ/Josh Green can defend Tatum and Brown. I would really favor the Celtics on paper in that matchup, but those guys have played really well in the postseason. I would expect it to start out with Washington on Tatum and DJJ on Brown. The big thing with the Celtics, as opposed to the Wolves, is I expect the Celtics to be way better at generating switches and targeting Kyrie and Doncic in those mismatches, the same way they targeted Herro, Garland, Haliburton, etc. so far in the postseason.

A big thing to monitor will be the three point shooting of Dallas' wings. Washington shot 23 of 49 from three in the OKC series, but has fallen back to earth in the Minnesota series, shooting 4 of 18 on mostly wide-open looks. The Celtics will likely concede looks from those guys in favor of collapsing on Luka and Kyrie. Dallas needs those guys to make shots--they probably wouldn't have beaten OKC if those guys shot their career percentages from three.

As good as Minnesota was defensively during the Denver series and during the regular season, they really feel like a poor matchup against Dallas. Conley, Gobert and Towns, can all be attacked on switches, especially when they ask the big guys to defend in space. Boston doesn't have those weaknesses, and have basically the perfect team from a personnel perspective to defend Luka and Kyrie, with four, really strong, all defense-level defenders to throw at them. The Celtics are closer to OKC in terms of personnel than Minnesota, and the Thunder actually did a really good job bottling up Luka and especially Kyrie, in that series.

The thing that scares me the most about Dallas' offense, because it feels like an unknown, is the number of lobs that they've been able to generate. There was a crazy stat they showed during the game that said Dallas had 50+ alley-oops in the postseason and the next closest team had 9. Luka and Kyrie are great at throwing them out of the pick and roll and Gafford and Lively can get to almost any ball (as can DJJ). Lively's health status is going to be pivotal, that looked like a potential nasty concussion last night, and he has been great on both ends as a role player. If he isn't ready to play in the Finals, and Kleber isn't back, Dallas is going to be pretty small if Gafford gets into foul trouble.
 

HomeRunBaker

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HRB having his own, secret metrics that tell him different things is awesome.
Yeah it’s literally how I make my living. If I had Dallas rated the same as everyone looking at certain metrics I’d never been able to confidently play them at +700 to make The Finals. Awesome post though.
 

Curt S Loew

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Well. At least one of Luka/Kyrie will get injured if the pattern holds.

My money is on Luka. Whether it's real or not.
 

lovegtm

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You think Luka is going to fake an injury in the finals?
I think that, after the season, Brad will come out with some cryptic Sun Tzu-style quote about "winning the battle before it's fought", and everyone will get very suspicious as to how the other team's alpha scorer got injured in every series, right through the title.
 

Euclis20

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Correlation? I mean the Clippers and Thunder’s offense looked out of sorts much of their series as well. There is one common denominator there and whether my rating had Dallas’ defense #1 in the league at the end of the regular season or 5th or 8th or whatever people rate them….it’s been nothing short of elite in these three series.
Dallas' defense has been great in the playoffs (and this series), but Minnesota looking bad when the game is on the line is hardly new. They were 27th in crunch time net rating this season, 2nd worst among playoff teams (Miami was 28th) and by far the worst among teams that got to round 2 (Cleveland was the 2nd worst among the 8 conference semi-finalists, and they finished 18th in crunch time net rating this season). Once Ant's insane jump shooting regressed to the mean (in no small part because Dallas defends the rim in ways that Denver and Phoenix couldn't), their offense fell back to earth.
 

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I think that, after the season, Brad will come out with some cryptic Sun Tzu-style quote about "winning the battle before it's fought", and everyone will get very suspicious as to how the other team's alpha scorer got injured in every series, right through the title.
 

HomeRunBaker

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Dallas' defense has been great in the playoffs (and this series), but Minnesota looking bad when the game is on the line is hardly new. They were 27th in crunch time net rating this season, 2nd worst among playoff teams (Miami was 28th) and by far the worst among teams that got to round 2 (Cleveland was the 2nd worst among the 8 conference semi-finalists, and they finished 18th in crunch time net rating this season). Once Ant's insane jump shooting regressed to the mean (in no small part because Dallas defends the rim in ways that Denver and Phoenix couldn't), their offense fell back to earth.
100% agree on Minnesota’s 4Q offense as discussed upthread pregame. We also acted on this information in the betting discord at the half and in 4Q when Dallas was engaged in the game while Minnesota couldn’t even run their offensive in the 1H….despite shooting regression heavily favoring the T-Wolve in the 2H. It wasn’t only crunch time Minny had issues w their half court sets.
 

lovegtm

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100% agree on Minnesota’s 4Q offense as discussed upthread pregame. We also acted on this information in the betting discord at the half and in 4Q when Dallas was engaged in the game while Minnesota couldn’t even run their offensive in the 1H….despite shooting regression heavily favoring the T-Wolve in the 2H. It wasn’t only crunch time Minny had issues w their half court sets.
I remember one play in particular, where the plan seemed to be to attack Luka by....having Jaden McDaniels run a PnR with Luka in it? It went about as well as you'd expect, and there was no Plan B.
 

Ed Hillel

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KAT shot 41.5% from 3 this season. This series, he’s shooting 13.5% in volume, on largely open looks. If he shoots even 30%, it’s probably 2-1 TWolves. This series kind of reminds me of that Celtics sweep over the KD/Kyrie Nets. I’m still not counting Minnesota out, especially if Lively is out. Wolves take one and this could snowball.

Also, that 3rd quarter officiating was tough to overcome. Fts were 17-3 Dallas, and a LOT of it was garbage.
 

lovegtm

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KAT shot 41.5% from 3 this season. This series, he’s shooting 13.5% in volume, on largely open looks. If he shoots even 30%, it’s probably 2-1 TWolves. This series kind of reminds me of that Celtics sweep over the KD/Kyrie Nets. I’m still not counting Minnesota out, especially if Lively is out. Wolves take one and this could snowball.

Also, that 3rd quarter officiating was tough to overcome. Fts were 17-3 Dallas, and a LOT of it was garbage.
Minnesota could absolutely take 1-2 more games. Beyond that, variance makes it hard, which is why no one comes back from 3-0. I would say that they need to win it in the first 43 minutes, because their crunchtime offense is so bad, but they nearly won game 2 in spite of that.

Any additional wear on Dallas is good for Boston at this point.
 

ElUno20

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I hate both of these teams so the talks of a 0-3 comeback intrigue me. Minny will have to solve their Gobert issues though.

Any game longer is a potential for a Dallas injury so Cs fans should definitely be rooting for Michael Jordan to rally the troops.
 

Euclis20

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I remember one play in particular, where the plan seemed to be to attack Luka by....having Jaden McDaniels run a PnR with Luka in it? It went about as well as you'd expect, and there was no Plan B.
The only time I can actually remember Minnesota attacking a Luka "mismatch" was when Gobert had him in the post, and Luka immediately stole the ball. I felt like I was being punk'd, that was less of an attempt at taking advantage of Luka's defense and more another chance for him to show up Gobert.
 

lovegtm

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The only time I can actually remember Minnesota attacking a Luka "mismatch" was when Gobert had him in the post, and Luka immediately stole the ball. I felt like I was being punk'd, that was less of an attempt at taking advantage of Luka's defense and more another chance for him to show up Gobert.
They tried a couple other times. Ant went at him, Dallas showed help, Ant passed to Naz in the corner, closeout, and the possession fizzled.

The McDaniels one was another.

It's one thing to know you have to attack a guy, and it's another to have any ability/plan to do so when Dallas is totally aware you want to attack him and has good initial counters.

I'm not inside Minnesota's org, so I don't know how to apportion blame between Finch, Ant/KAT, lack of supporting playmakers, but it all adds up to poopoo.
 

HomeRunBaker

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They tried a couple other times. Ant went at him, Dallas showed help, Ant passed to Naz in the corner, closeout, and the possession fizzled.

The McDaniels one was another.

It's one thing to know you have to attack a guy, and it's another to have any ability/plan to do so when Dallas is totally aware you want to attack him and has good initial counters.

I'm not inside Minnesota's org, so I don't know how to apportion blame between Finch, Ant/KAT, lack of supporting playmakers, but it all adds up to poopoo.
Doncic’s greatest defensive weaknesses are his inability to close out on 3-pt shooters and defending in transition. Trying to attack a 6-10 rugged defender off the dribble as he’s retreating with Lively and Gafford helping isn’t the way to do it. Everyone taking about him like he can simply be overpowered and out quicked “in a tight halfcourt set” like a Pritchard is missing this. I stress “in a tight halfcourt set” as the other way to exploit him is in transition but that isn’t Minnesotas game. The Wolves are a good matchup for Luka defensively whereas Boston should have more ways to engage him when out of position.
 

bosockboy

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Minnesota could absolutely take 1-2 more games. Beyond that, variance makes it hard, which is why no one comes back from 3-0. I would say that they need to win it in the first 43 minutes, because their crunchtime offense is so bad, but they nearly won game 2 in spite of that.

Any additional wear on Dallas is good for Boston at this point.
Or do we want equal rust? The 9 days might cool them off.
 

lovegtm

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Doncic’s greatest defensive weaknesses are his inability to close out on 3-pt shooters and defending in transition. Trying to attack a 6-10 rugged defender off the dribble as he’s retreating with Lively and Gafford helping isn’t the way to do it. Everyone taking about him like he can simply be overpowered and out quicked “in a tight halfcourt set” like a Pritchard is missing this. I stress “in a tight halfcourt set” as the other way to exploit him is in transition but that isn’t Minnesotas game. The Wolves are a good matchup for Luka defensively whereas Boston should have more ways to engage him when out of position.
Yup, all of this 100%.
 

SemperFidelisSox

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Most minutes played in the playoffs up to this point

1. Doncic (628)
2. Kyrie (603)
……
7. Tatum (524)

No other Celtics player is even in the top 10. It would be great if Minn could extend the series a game or two, but the C’s will have a huge rest advantage no matter what.
 

Ed Hillel

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Doncic’s greatest defensive weaknesses are his inability to close out on 3-pt shooters and defending in transition. Trying to attack a 6-10 rugged defender off the dribble as he’s retreating with Lively and Gafford helping isn’t the way to do it. Everyone taking about him like he can simply be overpowered and out quicked “in a tight halfcourt set” like a Pritchard is missing this. I stress “in a tight halfcourt set” as the other way to exploit him is in transition but that isn’t Minnesotas game. The Wolves are a good matchup for Luka defensively whereas Boston should have more ways to engage him when out of position.
The way Dallas has been utilizing Doncic, Jrue is primed for a bunch of open corner 3s if someone else takes the ball up. I’ll take that.

Though he did try to man up Jaylen a bunch this season and got completely embarrassed.
 

jablo1312

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https://x.com/SethPartnow/status/1795099577269338207

Has been a pretty tight series. Ant's conditioning at the end has caused some issues for Minny's crunch time offense, and the closers on the other side have been incredible. Still, all 3 games were up for grabs in the final few minutes. Minny only a 2 point dog in game 4 then going back home for G5...obviously unlikely but they're only 12:1 or so to pull off the comeback, which is pretty low for a team down 3-0.
 

Brand Name

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HRB having his own, secret metrics that tell him different things is awesome.
Yeah it’s literally how I make my living. If I had Dallas rated the same as everyone looking at certain metrics I’d never been able to confidently play them at +700 to make The Finals. Awesome post though.
This is how betting works if you’re doing it successfully for a living. You have to find an edge and find what others aren’t doing in a handful of different ways.

As that relates to this thread, you’re going to naturally have and see different, proprietary conclusions about what’s out there as opposed to more directly publicly information. That’s how any statistic, whether to beat betting markets or to work for a team, is going to go. The fact we’re getting as much is a rare treat.

If you’re just going with what’s public exclusively, that’s okay, but understand it likely won’t break anything new here. We should welcome innovation, especially when it is successful. This leads to success and a greater understanding of anything in life. Just look at the sport itself—add the 3 point line, the way most shots are now close to the rim or from deep. If we stayed as we were we’d still be taking set shots.
 

HomeRunBaker

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https://x.com/SethPartnow/status/1795099577269338207

Has been a pretty tight series. Ant's conditioning at the end has caused some issues for Minny's crunch time offense, and the closers on the other side have been incredible. Still, all 3 games were up for grabs in the final few minutes. Minny only a 2 point dog in game 4 then going back home for G5...obviously unlikely but they're only 12:1 or so to pull off the comeback, which is pretty low for a team down 3-0.
It’s very rare for the series favorite to be the one down 0-3. The line is down to 2 from 3.5 in part due to Lively likely being out which obv helps Minnesota but still doesn’t address their 4Q problems with Dallas’ halfcourt sets on both ends of the floor. They essentially need to get up 10+ and find a way to hang on which is a difficult win condition to ensure for 4 games.
 

lovegtm

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It’s very rare for the series favorite to be the one down 0-3. The line is down to 2 from 3.5 in part due to Lively likely being out which obv helps Minnesota but still doesn’t address their 4Q problems with Dallas’ halfcourt sets on both ends of the floor. They essentially need to get up 10+ and find a way to hang on which is a difficult win condition to ensure for 4 games.
Well, they very easily could have won game 2, despite the execution issues. Luka's shot doesn't go in, Naz's does, etc.

The Celtics got the DWhite putback in game 6, and they probably would need some breaks like that once or twice.
 

Euclis20

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I'll remain fascinated by the similarities between the 24 Wolves and the 22 Celtics, and it's fun to note that in their R1 matchup against two of the best closers in the league (Kyrie/Durant), Boston went up 3-0 by a combined 14 points. Minnesota is now down 0-3 to two of the best closers in the league by a combined 13 points. This despite that Celtics team having similar crunch time issues to this Wolves team.
 

HomeRunBaker

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Well, they very easily could have won game 2, despite the execution issues. Luka's shot doesn't go in, Naz's does, etc.

The Celtics got the DWhite putback in game 6, and they probably would need some breaks like that once or twice.
No doubt that both Dallas and Boston could have easily lost a game in this series. It’s more than simply make or miss when one team struggles getting shots off down the stretch though. If not for that questionable foul on Jones, the Wolves would have went their final 3 possessions w/o even getting a shot off….while the Mavs easily executed on their final play to get Gobert on Doncic 25-feet from the basket for an open 3.
 

jablo1312

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It’s very rare for the series favorite to be the one down 0-3. The line is down to 2 from 3.5 in part due to Lively likely being out which obv helps Minnesota but still doesn’t address their 4Q problems with Dallas’ halfcourt sets on both ends of the floor. They essentially need to get up 10+ and find a way to hang on which is a difficult win condition to ensure for 4 games.
Yea they've been out-shot in the final few minutes, and have executed better in the final 3 or whatever better, but its not the worst sign that each game has been tight. They're not hopeless is all. No Lively for g4, all of a sudden Powell is playing back-up minutes (and Gafford has to pace himself a bit more to play for 35 min). More paths to Minny finding ways to be up 10+ in the 4th. Gafford played most of the 2h yesterday and had major juice down the end obv, Dallas will most likely need him down the stretch in any remaining close game.

Dallas huge fave's to advance at this point, recipes for teams down 3-0 that comeback probably mirror last years (big upsets in the first few games) or this years (tight series w/ the HCA team losing the first 3).
 

HomeRunBaker

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Yea they've been out-shot in the final few minutes, and have executed better in the final 3 or whatever better, but its not the worst sign that each game has been tight. They're not hopeless is all. No Lively for g4, all of a sudden Powell is playing back-up minutes (and Gafford has to pace himself a bit more to play for 35 min). More paths to Minny finding ways to be up 10+ in the 4th. Gafford played most of the 2h yesterday and had major juice down the end obv, Dallas will most likely need him down the stretch in any remaining close game.

Dallas huge fave's to advance at this point, recipes for teams down 3-0 that comeback probably mirror last years (big upsets in the first few games) or this years (tight series w/ the HCA team losing the first 3).
Totally agree on Lively being a big loss espeically after already losing Kleber as you are correct in that it gives Minnesota a greater opportunity to avoid the game being decided in the final possessions. I will disagree on your point about losing close games not being a bad sign as this is the area Dallas has always held a tremendous advantage over them and controlled the game enough to get into this next to ideal situation at end of games.
 

jablo1312

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Has it indeed been confirmed that Lively is out for G4? I hadn't seen that quoted here.
Yea he just got confirmed out. Maybe a bit concerning that they did it almost 36 hours before game time, but I feel like if they make the Finals he's definitely playing.
 

HomeRunBaker

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Has it indeed been confirmed that Lively is out for G4? I hadn't seen that quoted here.
Lively out. Kleber is GTD. That’s what we’ve heard to this point. Teams are playing games with what they get out this time of year but this is a reputable source.
 
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