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Timberwolves hold ‘rough’ film session; Dallas Mavericks not satisfied after first game

MINNEAPOLIS – The Dallas Mavericks won Game 1 108-105 against the Minnesota Timberwolves on Wednesday, marking their first victory in the series opener during this year’s postseason. Both teams see significant room for improvement heading into Friday’s matchup.

After practice on Thursday, Timberwolves coach Chris Finch highlighted the team’s effort in the series-opening loss against the Mavericks. He felt they didn’t rise to the occasion, but expects more collective focus in Friday’s Game 2 showdown.

“Yeah, it was a tough film session,” Finch told reporters at practice in Minneapolis on Thursday. “I told the guys, ‘I haven’t been so disappointed in your effort in a long time. Your performance, your attitude, your application and attention to detail just weren’t there.’ The Western Conference finals are on. I’m not I’m sure they received the memo, but they received it this afternoon.”

May 22, 2024;  Minneapolis, Minnesota, United States;  Dallas Mavericks guard Luka Doncic (77) controls the ball against Minnesota Timberwolves forward Kyle Anderson (1) in the third quarter during Game 1 of the Western Conference Finals for the playoffs. 2024 NBA at Target Center.  Mandatory Credit: Bruce Kluckhohn-USA TODAY Sports

May 22, 2024; Minneapolis, Minnesota, United States; Dallas Mavericks guard Luka Doncic (77) controls the ball against Minnesota Timberwolves forward Kyle Anderson (1) in the third quarter during Game 1 of the Western Conference Finals for the playoffs. 2024 NBA at Target Center. Mandatory Credit: Bruce Kluckhohn-USA TODAY Sports / Bruce Kluckhohn-USA TODAY Sports

Considering the Timberwolves were coming off a close seven-game series against the Denver Nuggets before advancing beyond the Western Conference semifinals, Anthony Edwards felt the team was probably “a little tired.” After putting a target on his back by mentioning Kyrie Irving as his assignment following that Game 7 win over the Nuggets, Edwards was held to 19 points while Irving scored 24 of his 30 points in the first half to mark the guideline for Dallas.

“You could see it, we were just one step behind everyone,” Edwards said Wednesday night. “Especially me… It was all about us today. I didn’t get that down. We were probably a little tired.”

The Mavericks’ emphasis in game planning is clearly to shrink the floor, making it difficult for Edwards or Karl-Anthony Towns to make plays in the paint while challenging players like Jaden McDaniels or Kyle Anderson to take and knock down 3-pointers. Minnesota took 49 attempts from beyond the arc that night with early success shooting 11-25 (44%) in the first half, but fell back to shooting just 7-24 (29.2%) for the rest of the game. Edwards and Towns combined to score 12-36 (33.3%) overall.

“Yeah, I think for us it’s a matter of showing as many bodies as possible again, making it tough,” Mavericks coach Jason Kidd said. “(Anthony Edwards) is one of the best players in the world. You’re not going to stop him. You can make it difficult for him and expect him to fail.”

During Game 2, the Mavericks expect the Timberwolves to once again take a high volume of 3-point attempts. Coach Kidd emphasized the importance of continuing to protect the paint, but acknowledged how challenging it can be given the number of threats Minnesota must face.

“We’re hoping in Game 2 to attack early and often. We have to try to protect the paint,” Kidd said. “They shot a lot of 3s. They were hot early. I thought we were going to stick together in that second half, protecting the paint again; it’s tough when you have (Karl-Anthony Towns) and those guys that can score on the floor and get to the rim. …

“We think (Edwards) will come,” Kidd explained. “(Mike Conley) will come and they will be better in Game 2. We have to wait for that.”

As the Timberwolves challenge themselves to be better in Game 2, the Mavericks see a major opportunity to improve, starting with how they handle Minnesota’s 3-point attempts. Jaden McDaniels tied Dallas in three-pointers by shooting 6-for-9 (66.7%), while Edwards scored five and Naz Reid and Towns combined for another five.

“We got some of them. We have to be better. When you shoot above 40, you’re not going to be able to compete with everyone,” Kidd said. “But I thought, again, we have to be better. We said a couple of times that we knew we had to be better. So we have to protect the three-point line… They say they had good results.” “They think they can do some of those things and then the game will be different, so we have to defend the three-point line better.”

Dallas won Game 1 despite shooting 6-25 (24.0%) from the perimeter as a team. Luka Doncic, who finished with 33 points and eight assists, acknowledged that Minnesota’s defense, anchored by Rudy Gobert and McDaniels, has a reputation for collapsing the paint, making improving three-point shooting essential.

“They’re known for collapsing the paint, so I think we can do a better job of shooting the three, getting open looks,” Doncic said Wednesday. “I think me and (PJ Washington) had some open looks, we couldn’t knock him down, but we got the big ones… I see we shot 24 percent from three. We just have to get more open shots and keep shooting. . There’s a big shot and keep moving the ball.”

Dereck Lively II, 20, has proven wise beyond his years throughout the Mavericks’ postseason run and has emerged as a clear X-factor in the paint on both ends as this run has progressed. He acknowledged the expectation of adjustments from each team before Game 2, emphasizing how Dallas must be prepared to adapt on the fly.

“We’re really trying to adapt… We’re trying to paint ourselves over,” Lively said. “But at the same time, we knew it was an inside-out game to try to be able to contest shots. They were making shots today. We’re going to adapt. We’ll be able to just come back.” Explore, learn, find out who the shooters are, find out what makes them comfortable, where they shoot from and try to eliminate that. “We’re trying to make every player feel uncomfortable on the court.”

After facing two previous playoff opponents in series that lasted six games, Dallas understands that Minnesota could throw different schemes in Game 2. Being able to adapt on the fly in a game is important to prevent any particular adjustment from becoming in a series. changing one.

“You have to be able to adapt. They’re always going to change their schemes, change coverage, change your spot,” Lively said. You can’t be a robot out there. A lot of things will happen to you as you go, but you can’t, you can’t get stuck in the mud. You have to be able to move your feet. You have to be able to move your eyes and adapt.”

While rebounding remains a focus, the Mavericks understand the importance of reducing unforced errors, particularly live turnovers, to avoid allowing Minnesota to attack the open floor and find a rhythm. Irving conveyed the importance of taking pride in doing the little things.

“I mean, they’ve got guys that can cover a lot of space and do a lot of the little things that don’t show up on the stat sheet,” Irving said. “They take a lot of shots and their rotations are pretty fast. So we know we’re facing a very powerful offense but also a very powerful defense. That’s what leads to a lot of them getting away: a lot of turnovers, a lot of live turnovers and having a chance to score on us before we set up our defense. That’s what leads to breakaways… a lot of live turnovers and having a chance to score on us before we set up our defense. “

“We’re a good defensive team too, so watching a lot of chess games, as long as the team that makes the most stops, gets the offensive rebounds, gets a lot of 50-50 balls, does those things, then they’ll win.” Irving explained.

There is a lot at stake for both teams heading into Game 2. It would be a huge advantage for the Mavericks to return to Dallas with a 2-0 series lead as they try to protect the American Airlines Center home court for two straight games. Minnesota would have as little margin for error as it does in such a situation.

READ MORE: Kyrie Irving admits Anthony Edwards’ comment motivated Game 1 performance

Keeping with MavericksGame Day for more coverage of the Dallas Mavericks during the NBA Playoffs.

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