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Luka Doncic and Kyrie Irving Propel Dallas Mavericks To Dominant 3-0 Series Lead Over Timberwolves

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After leaving Minneapolis with two victories to kick off the Western Conference finals, the Dallas Mavericks overcame Dereck Lively II’s injury to take a commanding 3-0 series lead over the Minnesota Timberwolves with a 116-107 victory in Game 3.

Luka Doncic and Kyrie Irving led the charge throughout the game and in crucial moments. Doncic posted 33 points, seven rebounds, five assists, and five steals. Irving contributed 33 points and four assists. This win puts them one step away from the NBA Finals, marking their third game this postseason where both scored at least 30 points each. This showcased what Dallas envisioned when pairing these superstars.

Doncic, however, remains focused. When asked about the significance of leading 3-0 in a series, he cautioned: “Don’t even say it.” He added: “It feels great, but we’ve got to think about the next game. We’ve got to play with the same mentality. They’re not going to go away. No way.”

Irving echoed Doncic’s cautious optimism, emphasizing the need to be ready for a strong finish: “It means absolutely nothing right now. Going into Game 4, it’s still 0-0. And that’s the mentality we have in that locker room.”

Early in the game, the Timberwolves frequently double-teamed Doncic to force the ball out of his hands, but the Mavericks capitalized. Derrick Jones Jr. and P.J. Washington hit early 3-pointers, and Lively benefited in the paint with three consecutive dunks. Doncic also made several tough shots, including step-back 3-pointers and a turnaround jumper. The Mavericks led by as many as eight points in the first quarter, ending it up 33-28.

With Irving alone on the floor, the Timberwolves began to double-team him. Despite a series of fouls disrupting their momentum, Irving found Jones for a corner 3-pointer and then drove past Conley for a floater, pushing Dallas to a double-digit lead for the first time.

A concerning moment occurred when Lively fell and was accidentally kneed in the head by Towns, requiring assistance to the locker room. With Maxi Kleber already out with a shoulder injury, Dallas was left with Gafford and Powell as their only traditional centers with 8:35 remaining before halftime.

The Timberwolves went on a 5-0 run to narrow Dallas’ lead, but the Mavericks responded with a 7-0 stretch, highlighted by Doncic’s free throws. Both teams traded baskets, with timely shots from Irving helping maintain a double-figure advantage. Doncic’s consecutive points, including a perimeter shot, energized the home crowd.

Gafford’s third personal foul just before halftime posed a challenge for Dallas, especially with Lively’s injury diagnosed as a neck strain, ruling him out for the rest of the game.

At halftime, Edwards and Towns had a combined 19 points on 6-21 shooting, as Minnesota struggled with their perimeter shots, hitting only 4-16.

In the third quarter, the Timberwolves narrowed the lead, with Edwards making an impressive dunk and step-back jumpers to tie the game at 77-77. Reid’s go-ahead layup highlighted the lack of paint presence with Lively sidelined. Irving’s response with a jumper tied it again.

Doncic, after a steal, attacked Edwards to draw a foul, splitting free throws. Hardy’s play against Gobert and McDaniels’ foul trouble complicated Minnesota’s defense. Towns’ and-one finish brought Minnesota close, but the Mavericks maintained a tie going into the fourth quarter.

In the fourth quarter, the Mavericks held Minnesota to 20 points, despite missing Lively. Irving and Doncic scored 21 of their team’s 29 points, outscoring Minnesota.

Irving’s early fourth-quarter finish and Doncic’s timely return were pivotal. After a traveling call nullified Doncic’s impressive pass to Gafford, Dallas responded with strong defensive plays and timely shots. Irving’s baseline jumper and Doncic’s clutch plays helped secure a six-point lead.

Gafford’s and-one alley-oop sealed the victory for Dallas. Game 4 will take place on Tuesday at American Airlines Center.

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