ZZY Sports >Football World >Timberwolves-Mavericks: 5 takeaways from Minnesota's strong finish to Game 4

Timberwolves-Mavericks: 5 takeaways from Minnesota's strong finish to Game 4


Anthony Edwards fills the box score and Karl-Anthony Towns scores 20 in the 2nd half to force the series back to Minnesota.

• Download the NBA App• Game detail: MIN 105, DAL 100

DALLAS — Headed to a postgame interview room, Anthony Edwards noticed Dallas Cowboys linebacker Micah Parsons standing in the hall rocking a pair of Edwards’ AE1 signature Adidas sneakers.

As the door closed behind him, Edwards promised to return soon.

“I told him I’ll bring him back some nice shoes for Game 6,” he said.

We’ll see.

Edwards figures he’ll be hand-delivering kicks in Dallas this weekend after leading Minnesota to a 105-100 win Tuesday over the Mavericks in Game 4 of the Western Conference Finals. To ensure a return trip to the Lone Star State, the Timberwolves need a Game 5 victory Thursday at Target Center.

Minnesota trails 3-1 in the series.

“What am I supposed to say?” he asked. “[Am] I supposed to say we’re gonna lose Game 5? No, I’m not gonna ever say that.”

Here are five takeaways from Game 4:

1. Edwards, Towns perform like stars

We’ve waited for a performance like this since the beginning of the series. Edwards scored a game-high 29 points with 10 rebounds, falling only one assist shy of his first career triple-double. Despite shooting 28% from the field in the first three games of the series, Towns hit a blistering 9-for-13 for 25 points.

Minnesota is 7-1 in the playoffs when Towns scores 18 points or more and is 2-5 when he scores fewer than 18.

“We chatted yesterday,” Timberwolves coach Chris Finch said. “I just told him the past is unrelated to the future. Trust your talent. Stay confident. Shots will fall. That’s how shooting is. We’ve just got to wait until the cards turn in your favor.”

They certainly flipped in a major way.

Feasting on a more sensible shot diet that included more attempts at the rim, Towns hit 2-for-3 in the first half before sinking 7-of-10 over the third and fourth quarters. Towns’ diversified attack helped him nail a couple of big 3s late.

Finch utilized a football analogy when speaking to Edwards about his responsibilities for Game 4. He compared Edwards to a tailback that needed to explode quickly through holes to reach the second level of Dallas’ defense.

“Once you get to the second line of the defense, then they’re at your disposal,” Finch told Edwards.

The 22-year-old attacked the paint with the ferocity of former Minnesota Vikings running back Adrian Peterson, and the Timberwolves benefitted.

2. Timberwolves cool off Doncic, Irving

Credit Minnesota for Luka Doncic and Kyrie Irving’s struggles.

The Timberwolves assigned Edwards to guard Doncic, while putting defensive stalwart Jaden McDaniels on Irving.

The Mavericks superstar duo combined to score 44 points on 13-for-39 from the field. The Slovenian notched his ninth postseason triple-double (28 points, 15 rebounds, 10 assists) to tie Wilt Chamberlain for ninth all-time. Irving finished with 16 points on 6-for-18 shooting.

“We’re in the NBA, man,” Irving said. “No team is going to lay down and give me and Luka open shots. When I look at just the quality of our shots, a few of them could be better. A few of them were rushed. A few of them were in and out.”

Edwards and Towns outscored Doncic and Irving 54-44. Over the first three games of the series, the Dallas duo averaged 60.3 points compared to 37 for Edwards and Towns.

“[Edwards and McDaniels] did a good job of just being physical, understanding tendencies and not getting them on the free throw line,” Minnesota point guard Mike Conley said. “Those two guys were big for us in that matchup switch.”

3. Minnesota finally finishes

The Timberwolves entered the fourth quarter of every game this series either tied or leading by five points. They led 78-73 entering the fourth quarter of Game 4 and finally found a way to finish.

Over the first three games of this series, Minnesota generated an offensive rating of 114.3. But, in the fourth quarter of those games, the Wolves’ offensive rating tumbled off a cliff to 95.5.

The visitors scored 22, 22 and 20 points in the fourth quarters of those games. In Game 4, Minnesota put up 27 points, led by Towns, who scored 10 points and hit 3 of 4 from deep in the final quarter.

“It came together for him,” Edwards said. “He was super confident. He wasn’t worried about any shots previous to the shots he hit tonight. He played exceptionally well and came through big time. He was the reason we won.”

Edwards joked that he planned to “beat him up on the bus” for fouling out with 1:38 remaining. But Towns scored 20 of his 25 points in the second half. Before Game 4, Towns hadn’t produced 10 points in any half this series.

4. Kleber returns; Lively II sits out

The Mavericks ruled out Dereck Lively II for Game 4 due to a neck strain sustained in Game 3. The rookie could barely turn his head when walking into American Airlines Center ahead of pre-game.

Lively’s absence opened more minutes for Dwight Powell, not to mention Maxi Kleber, who returned Tuesday for the first time since separating his right shoulder in the first half of Dallas’ Game 6 win in the first round vs. the LA Clippers.

Finch anticipated Kleber’s return would provide an unfamiliar look for Dallas.

“That gives them a stretch lineup we haven’t seen all series,” he said.

Kleber played 13 minutes and scored two points as Dallas ran different actions that provided open shots for Kleber. But, it was clear he wasn’t fully comfortable taking them.

Mavericks coach Jason Kidd thought KIeber “did great” in limited action.

Lively’s potential return remains uncertain. The way the rookie looked walking into the arena Tuesday didn’t inspire much optimism for a return in Game 5.

“He’s a big piece to our defense and our offense,” Doncic said.

Minnesota knew that and attacked accordingly, according to Conley.

5. Kidd compares past to present

Kidd played on the last Dallas team to win a championship. So, naturally, he’s biased when comparing that 2011 squad to the current team.

“I’m gonna say the ’11 team was better for sure because I was on it,” he said. “Dirk [Nowitzki is] my neighbor. I don’t want to [tick] him off.”

Fair enough.

With the Hall of Fame point guard at the controls in 2011, Dallas defeated the Oklahoma City Thunder 4-1 in the Western Conference Finals, before upsetting the Miami Heat, 4-2, in the Finals to capture the organization’s only title.

Kidd sees similarities between that team and this current group, which has a chance to end this conference finals series 4-1 like his squad did.

“This team probably has a little more talent, youth,” Kidd said. “The old guys on that ’11 team, they knew what they had to do. They both mirror the word[s] team and sacrifice. That team in ’11 sacrificed. You had a lot of guys that maybe felt their role could be different but enjoyed their role.”

Kidd spent time at Nowitzki’s house on Monday, and he’s kept in contact this week with former teammates Jason Terry and Shawn Marion.

“They like the team, like what’s happening,” he said.

* * *

Michael C. Wright is a senior writer for NBA.com. You can e-mail him here, find his archive here and follow him on X.

The views on this page do not necessarily reflect the views of the NBA, its clubs or Warner Bros. Discovery

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