Mavericks’ Keys to Victory in WCF Matchup

Dallas Mavericks | Image by Dallas Mavericks/Facebook
Dallas Mavericks | Image by Dallas Mavericks/Facebook

As the Dallas Mavericks match up against the Minnesota Timberwolves in Game 1 of the Western Conference Finals on Wednesday evening, the team will likely have to focus on a few aspects of the game to secure a victory in the series.

Dallas is coming off a physical and long six-game series against the Oklahoma City Thunder, while the Timberwolves recently defeated the Denver Nuggets in Game 7 to advance into the conference finals.

Although the Mavericks have remained consistent through their first two series, the team must focus on two key parts of the game to defeat the Timberwolves and move into the NBA Finals.

Making Open Shots

The Timberwolves gave up a significant number of wide-open shots, meaning shots where a defender is more than six feet away from the shooter, throughout their first two series in the playoffs.

The Phoenix Suns were considered wide open on 18.8% of their three-point shots in their first-round matchup, while the Denver Nuggets were wide open on 20% of their attempts in their series against the Timberwolves.

Each of these figures is similar to the frequency of wide-open shots the Mavericks took in their first two series, meaning that Dallas will likely already be accustomed to the number of looks they will have.

The Mavericks struggled to make these attempts in their first-round series against the Los Angeles Clippers, making just 37.4% of their wide-open three-point attempts during the six games.

However, this number skyrocketed to 45.2% in their second-round series against the Oklahoma City Thunder, largely due to consistent shooting from forward PJ Washington and Derrick Jones Jr.

Continuing their hot shooting will be paramount to defeating the Timberwolves, as Minnesota also touts one of the best defenses near the basket due to reigning Defensive Player of the Year Rudy Gobert.

Dallas’ ability to convert on wide-open shots could force Gobert out of the paint more than he has in previous series, opening up various opportunities for the team to attack all three levels of the court without one of the league’s best shot-blockers roaming near the basket.

Rebound Missed Shots as a Team

The second key to the Mavericks’ victory in the Western Conference Finals will be their ability to rebound missed shots, both on the offensive and defensive sides of the game.

Although Minnesota pulled down only the 15th-most rebounds per game during the regular season, it is still the best rebounding team the Mavericks will have faced in this playoff run.

The Clippers ranked 19th for the most rebounds per game, while the Thunder ranked 27th. The Mavericks finished in the lower third of the league, rebounding the 21st-most missed shots per game.

The Timberwolves almost always utilize a large lineup, with at least two players 6 feet 9 inches tall or taller in each of their ten most-used lineups.

As a result, every player on the Mavericks must place an emphasis on boxing out the Timberwolves and fighting for rebounds on every possession.

The Mavericks’ need for consistent rebounding was evident in their wins and losses during the regular season. They collected 44.6 rebounds during their wins but just 40.3 rebounds in games they lost.

Although making wide-open shots and rebounding missed attempts will be two of the biggest keys to winning this series, the Mavericks must focus on all aspects of the game to defeat the Timberwolves and advance to the NBA Finals for the first time since 2011.

The matchup at the Target Center in Minneapolis starts at 7:30 p.m. CT and will be broadcast on TNT.

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