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Mavs One Win Away From Clinching NBA Finals Berth

Kyrie Irving #11 of the Dallas Mavericks shoots the ball between Mike Conley #10 and Karl-Anthony Towns #32 of the Minnesota Timberwolves | Image by Matthew Stockman/Getty Images
Kyrie Irving #11 of the Dallas Mavericks shoots the ball between Mike Conley #10 and Karl-Anthony Towns #32 of the Minnesota Timberwolves | Image by Matthew Stockman/Getty Images

The Dallas Mavericks are just one win away from a series sweep against the Minnesota Timberwolves and a return to the NBA Finals.

The Mavs will look to lock up the berth Tuesday night at home and avoid a trip to Minnesota, but key injuries make the bout a daunting task. Dallas has found ways to win so far, but Game 4 could prove especially difficult.

Dereck Lively II will be out Tuesday night after taking a knee to the head in Game 3, according to Bleacher Report. Lively has been a key part of the Dallas defense, and his absence will put additional pressure on the Mavs as they look to wrap up the series.

However, Dallas will get power forward Maxi Kleber back after he missed nine games due to a shoulder injury. Kleber does not offer the dominance that Lively brings, but his rebounding skills may help alleviate the pressure on Daniel Gafford. Dallas could also rotate backup center Dwight Powell into the lineup to keep Kleber fresh.

Luka Doncic and Kyrie Irving have been stellar so far in the series. In Game 3, they combined for 66 points. The pair had six steals, nine assists, and 10 rebounds on the night. Doncic has become known this season for his “touchdown” passes, often hitting teammates in stride on fast breaks to set up easy scoring opportunities.

“Obviously, I’m not fast enough to push the pace,” Doncic said, as reported by ESPN. “But my passes are faster than feet. I think with my vision, I can do those passes. … I know [my teammates are] going to run, so I just try to [find] them. I think I could be a pretty good quarterback, honestly.”

Doncic has the second-longest relay in the playoffs and has regularly hit perfect passes from over 50 feet away.

“With the flick of the wrist,” head coach Jason Kidd said. “A lot of people got to load up and throw it like a quarterback. [It takes] strength. Luka can throw the frozen rope, or he can throw one like a pillow.”

Doncic and Irving will need to find the type of chemistry that has allowed them to advance against a stout Minnesota team. Despite being down by three games, the Wolves have the talent and resiliency to bounce back and force a Game 5 in Minnesota.

Dallas won Game 2 by just one point, but the team had more success in Game 3, breaking a tie game with a 29-point scoring run to win by nine. The Wolves will need to overcome fatigue to match the energy Dallas has been laying down.

The game tips off at 7:30 p.m. CT Tuesday night at American Airlines Center.

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