VCF Sports >Football World >Starting 5, May 30: Mavs to Finals? Or will Wolves force Game 6?

Starting 5, May 30: Mavs to Finals? Or will Wolves force Game 6?

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Starting 5Crunch will have the Minnesota crowd ready for tonight’s win-or-go-home Game 5.


THE LINEUP 🏀

What’s inside today’s edition? 

Dueling Duos: Star tandems have shaped the outcome of each game of the West Finals

Game 5 History: The historic hurdles the Wolves face as they try to claw their way back

5 Things To Watch: Defensive matchups, Ant-man drives, KAT’s 3s and more

Mic’d Up Ant: Relive some of Anthony Edwards’ best mic’d up moments from the Playoffs

Celtics’ Path To Finals: Key plays and moments from Boston’s 12-2 run to the Finals


BUT FIRST … ⏰

What to watch today.

Tonight (8:30 ET, TNT), the Wolves host the Mavs for Game 5 of the West Finals looking to extend their season, while the Mavs try to book their first Finals trip in 13 years.

NBA Play: Before tonight’s Game 5, can you list the double-digit scorers from Game 4?


1. DUELING DUOS IN THE WEST FINALS

The Duo Decider: All four games of the West Finals have come down to the wire, and a showdown among star tandems has helped shape the outcome of each ending.

Kyrie & Luka vs. Ant & KAT: Heading into tonight’s Game 5 (8:30 ET, TNT), the pair that’s combined for more points in each game has seen their team get the win.

But the two duos’ impact on their respective clubs extends beyond the past four outings.

In Games 1-3, Irving and Doncic averaged 60.4 points, compared to 37.0 for Edwards and Towns – Dallas won all three gamesIn Minnesota’s Game 4 win, Kyrie and Luka combined for 44 points and shot 33.3%, while Ant and KAT combined for 54 points and shot 52.6%The Wolves are 22-11 when Edwards and Towns combine for 50+ points this season, including a 6-1 record in the PlayoffsThe Mavs are 37-14 when Kyrie and Luka combine for 50+ points this season, including a 6-2 record in the Playoffs

Anthony Edwards (29 points) and Karl-Anthony Towns (25) strike back after being outplayed by Luka and Kyrie in Games 1-3.

KAT’s Impact: After shooting 15-of-54 (27.8%) from the field and 3-of-22 (13.6%) from downtown in the first three games of the series, Towns responded by dropping 25 points (9-13 fg, 4-5 3pt) in Game 4 – showcasing his importance to Minnesota’s success.

Minnesota is 7-1 in the Playoffs when Towns scores 18+ points and is 2-5 when he scores fewer than 18The Wolves are 8-0 this season when Towns shoots over 65% and takes 8+ field goal attempts, including a 2-0 record in the Playoffs🗣️ Wolves Coach Chris Finch: “KAT’s a great player. His struggles weren’t going to last forever. He’s been a huge part of every series… I’m really proud of him.”🗣️ Ant on KAT’s Game 4: “He’s the reason we won tonight.”

No Fear, Just Fun: Edwards (29 pts, 11-25 FG) also scored a personal series-high with the Wolves’ season on the line. He and KAT both cited their energy and aggressiveness as a factor in the win.

🗣️ Ant: “We’re always having a great time. We just try to carry that over to the court… I hadn’t been being aggressive – that won’t happen anymore.”🗣️ KAT: “I love the aggression we played with. You could tell that we had that desperation that makes us special … playing with so much energy and making the plays needed to win.”

Dallas stars Luka Doncic and Kyrie Irving are superlative once again with 33 points apiece on 55% combined shooting in Game 3.

Unfazed Mavs: Kyrie and Luka’s run of four straight games with 50+ points combined was snapped on Tuesday, but their play this postseason has been unprecedented for a Dallas duo.

This Is 30: Kyrie and Luka have both scored 30+ points in three games this postseason – no other Mavs pair has ever reached that feat in a Playoff game more than once🗣️ Kyrie: “No team is going to lay down and give me and Luka open shots. I think when you look at the quality of our shots, a few of them could’ve been better… but it could’ve gone either way.”🗣️ Luka On Kyrie: “(He’s) great. I just told him keep going, when you’re open shoot the ball… and just hoop.”

2. WHAT HISTORY SAYS ABOUT GAME 5

No team has ever won a best-of-seven series after trailing 3-0.

155 teams have tried, 155 teams have fallen short. The Wolves are team No. 156.

Minnesota, however, became just the 61st club of those 156 teams to avoid a sweep by winning Game 4 in Dallas. Now, they head home with a chance to beat the odds again in Game 5 (8:30 ET, TNT).

15 of 60: Of the 60 prior teams to win Game 4 when trailing 3-0 in the series, 15 (25.0%) have won Game 54 of 15: Four of those 15 teams (26.7%) won Game 5 at home4 of 35: 35 prior teams have gone down 3-0 in the Conference Finals, and only four (11.4%) have forced a Game 6

Minnesota's defensive pressure on the perimeter and the play of Karl-Anthony Towns could shape Game 5.

Wolves Against The Wall: Minnesota is 3-0 in elimination games this postseason, with wins in Games 6 and 7 against Denver plus Tuesday’s victory in Dallas – and their defense excels with their season on the line.

In those three elimination games, Minnesota has posted a 90.4 defensive rating (points allowed per 100 possessions) compared to their 114.6 defensive rating in every other game this postseasonAgainst Denver: The Wolves held Denver to 79 ppg in their two elimination games – 26.6 points below their Playoff average entering the contests (106.6)Against Dallas in Game 4: The Wolves held the Mavs to 100 points – 7.4 points below their Playoff average entering the contest (107.4)Home Stand: The last time Minnesota faced elimination at home (Game 6 vs. Denver), the Wolves won 115-70 – the largest winning margin in a Playoff game since 2015

Historic Hurdle: Minnesota’s already achieved a feat no other team has, as they handed Kyrie Irving his first career loss in a potential closeout game (14-1), and the Mavs know they’ll have to match the Wolves’ intensity to close them out.

🗣️ Mavs Coach Jason Kidd: “We put ourselves in a position to win the game… but you got to give Minnesota credit, they came out and fought and found a way to win.”🗣️ Luka: “That game is on me. I just didn’t give enough energy. They won one game, we just need to focus on the next one.”🗣️ Kyrie: “It’s a new space. Now we just gotta deal with this loss and get ready for Minnesota and enjoy that ride there because it’s going to be hostile.”

3. 5 THINGS TO KNOW FOR GAME 5

1. Minnesota Mixing Up Its Matchups: With the season on the line, Anthony Edwards defended Luka Doncic for a team-high 6:26 in Game 4, holding the league scoring champ to 12 points on 28.6% from the field (4-14) and from 3 (2-7).

How big of a change was that?Ant defended Luka for only 4:25 of matchup time in the first three games of the series combinedJaden McDaniels shifted from being the primary defender on Luka to defending Kyrie Irving, limiting Kyrie to four points, one assist and two turnovers in 7:26 of matchup time

2. Driving Ant: Prior to Game 3, Edwards vowed to be more assertive on offense: “It’s gonna be a lot of shots. I’m gonna be super aggressive.”

His shot attempts have jumped from 16.5 in Games 1 & 2 to 24.5 in Games 3 & 4. But there’s more to it than just getting up more shots. Edwards’ drives to the basket have increased by 10 per game – 15.5 in Games 1 & 2 to 25.5 in Games 3 & 4Edwards averaged 9.5 points and 4.5 assists off his drives the past two games, up from 5.5 points and 2.5 dimes in the first two games

3. Kyrie’s New Challenge: Irving’s record unbeaten streak in closeout games (14-0) was snapped in Game 4. Can he (and the Mavs) finish the job tonight?

After averaging 27.7 pts in the first three games, Kyrie was held to a series-low 16 on 33.3% shooting (6-of-18, including 1-of-6 from 3)

Hitting just 13.6% of his 3s and 27.8% overall through Games 1-3, Towns nets 20 of his 25 points after the break in Game 4.

4. A KAT Hot Streak?: Karl-Anthony Towns bounced back from the worst five-game stretch of 3-point shooting in his career (4-of-32) with a 4-of-5 shooting display in Game 4, including a trio of clutch 4th quarter 3s

The Wolves are 11-4 this season when Towns – a 41.6% 3-point shooter this season – makes at least four 3s in a game

5. Lively’s Status: Dereck Lively II missed Game 4 and is listed as questionable for Game 5 with a neck strain suffered in Game 3.

Lively leads the Mavs in plus/minus this postseason (+109 in 323 minutes) and in this series (+22 in 63 minutes) and has yet to miss a shot (13-of-13) against MinnesotaHe holds the second-longest streak of made field goals to open a playoff series; just two shy of the all-time record (Chris Andersen’s 15 from the 2013 East Finals)

4. ANT MIC’D UP

Anthony Edwards' boundless enthusiasm is on full display as he helps Minnesota save its season in Dallas.

The dunks. The blocks. The buckets.

You’ve seen Anthony Edwards in the spotlight this postseason.

But have you heard him on the game’s biggest stage?

Join Ant courtside by reliving his best mic’d up soundbites from the Playoffs…

Game 4 vs. PHX: “Don’t ever worry about me being locked, I’m here.“Game 1 vs. DEN: “Oh this is going to be fun.”… “Yeahhh.”Game 3 vs. DEN: “This is a series, bro.”Game 7 vs. DEN: “Don’t stop shooting.”Game 1 vs. DAL: “Come on, man!”Best Career Mic’d Up Moments

5. BOSTON’S FINALS RUN – IN GIFS 

First Round vs. Heat: Jaylen Brown opens up Boston’s Playoff run scoring the Celtics’ first five points, including a 3 and this sick spin and dunk

First Round vs. Heat: Jaylen Brown opens up Boston’s Playoff run scoring the Celtics’ first five points, including a 3 and this sick spin and dunk

First Round vs. Heat: Jayson Tatum throws down this ridiculous poster dunk in Miami

First Round vs. Heat: Jayson Tatum throws down this ridiculous poster dunk in Miami

East Semis vs. Cavs: Tatum finds Brown on the wing for the clutch 3 to put the Celtics up 3-1 over the Cavaliers

East Semis vs. Cavs: Tatum finds Brown on the wing for the clutch 3 to put the Celtics up 3-1 over the Cavaliers

East Semis vs. Cavs: Al Horford knocks down the dagger 3 in Game 5, sending the Celtics to the Conference Finals

East Semis vs. Cavs: Al Horford knocks down the dagger 3 in Game 5, sending the Celtics to the Conference Finals

East Finals vs. Pacers: With the Celtics on the ropes in Game 1, Brown sends the game to overtime against Indy

East Finals vs. Pacers: With the Celtics on the ropes in Game 1, Brown sends the game to overtime against Indiana

East Finals vs. Pacers: After struggling in the 4th of Game 1, Tatum took over in OT, scoring 10 in the period including this dagger 3

East Finals vs. Pacers: After struggling in the 4th of Game 1, Tatum took over in OT, scoring 10 in the period including this dagger 3

East Finals vs. Pacers: Coming down to the wire in Game 3, Jrue Holiday gets the tough and-1 to put the Celtics up late

East Finals vs. Pacers: Coming down to the wire in Game 3, Jrue Holiday gets the tough and-1 to put the Celtics up late

East Finals vs. Pacers: Holiday follows up his and-1 basket by immediately stealing the ball back for the Celtics

East Finals vs. Pacers: Holiday follows up his and-1 basket by immediately stealing the ball back for the Celtics

East Finals vs. Pacers: All tied up in Game 4, Brown swats away the Andrew Nembhard layup with 1:05 remaining

East Finals vs. Pacers: All tied up in Game 4, Brown swats away the Andrew Nembhard layup with 1:05 remaining

East Finals vs. Pacers: The very next play, Brown drives into the lane and kicks to Derrick White in the corner who knocks down the game-winner with 45 seconds left

East Finals vs. Pacers: The very next play, Brown drives into the lane and kicks to Derrick White in the corner who knocks down the game-winner with 45 seconds left

East Finals vs. Pacers: Brown holds his Larry Bird Trophy as Eastern Conference Finals MVP

East Finals vs. Pacers: Brown holds his Larry Bird Trophy as Eastern Conference Finals MVP

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