Western Conference Final preview

Written by: Miles Jordan

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Western Conference Final preview

After the Minnesota Timberwolves completed their historic 20-point comeback to defeat the reigning NBA Champions, the Denver Nuggets, they advanced to the Western Conference Finals, where they will face the Dallas Mavericks.

Minnesota Timberwolves

The Timberwolves have reached their first Western Conference Finals appearance since 2004, with the help of rising star Anthony Edwards, NBA Defensive Player of the Year Rudy Gobert, NBA Sixth Man of the Year Naz Reid, and many other contributing role players. Edwards has been the spark for the Timberwolves this postseason, going head to head with Kevin Durant to capture a four-game sweep versus Devin Booker and Bradley Beal and now knocking off the reigning NBA Champion Denver Nuggets in an electrifying seven-game series.

Edwards has recorded 28.9 points, 6.2 rebounds, and 5.9 assists in the 11 games played for the Timberwolves this postseason. Edwards has also dropped a playoff career-high 43 points and has recorded the most points scored out of any player in the postseason with 318. The young, talented guard has proved he is a force to reckon with in the postseason and will match up against NBA veteran Kyrie Irving in the Western Conference Finals.

4x NBA Defensive Player of the Year has had a presence in the paint for the entire NBA season and will matchup against Mavericks big men Daniel Gafford and PJ Washington, who have played well in the postseason but have yet to face a dominant big man, outside of Thunder rookie Chet Holmgren, who weighs less then Gobert and plays a stretch five position, less centered in the paint. Gobert’s presence in the paint will be clear as the 7’1” center towered over Gafford (6’10”) and Washington (6’7”).

Timberwolves forward Karl-Anthony Towns has played an impressive season, recording 21.8 points, 8.3 rebounds, and three assists per game. He has helped lead Minnesota to the No. 3 seed in the West and capture series victories over the Suns and Nuggets. Towns adds to Minnesota’s height, and the combination of him and Gobert would seem to give the Timberwolves an advantage in rebounding over the smaller Mavericks big men.

Dallas Mavericks

Dallas has not had an easy path to the Western Conference Finals, knocking off the Los Angeles Clippers 4-2 in the opening round of the playoffs and then derailing the No. 1 team in the West, the Oklahoma City Thunder, in six games, to advance to the Western Conference Finals for the first time since 2011 with NBA Legend Dirk Nowitzki, where they eventually defeated the Miami Heat in the finals.

The Mavericks' star power has come from their backcourt, with the dynamic duo of Luke Doncic and Kyrie Irving leading Dallas to their first Western Conference Finals appearance in over 12 years. Doncic has played lights out in the playoffs, nearly averaging a triple-double with 27.3 points, 9.7 rebounds, and 9.1 assists through 12 games to lead the Mavericks in points, rebounds, and assists.

Doncic’s counterpart, Kyrie Irving, has 21.1 points, 5.4 rebounds, and four assists per game, which combined for 48.4 points per game between the two guards. Irving has a history of conference finals appearances from his days with the Cleveland Cavaliers, including an NBA Championship with Clevland in 2016. Irving’s veteran experience hopefully will come in handy to the young Doncic, who is appearing in his second-ever Western Conference Finals, however his second in the past three years.

The Minnesota Timberwolves will host Game One of the Western Conference Finals at the Target Center on Wednesday, May 22, at 8:30 p.m. EST, where the matchup of young talented guards Edwards and Doncic will face off in front of the entire country in a best-of-seven series.