NBA Western Conference Finals preview: Doncic-Edwards battle headline fascinating Timberwolves-Mavericks series

Published May 21, 2024, 5:28 PMPao Ambat

Luka Doncic and the Dallas Maverick return to a familiar place, but standing in their way are the feisty, fearless, and ferocious Anthony Edwards and the Minnesota Timberwolves.

Two of the best young talents in the NBA square off when Luka Doncic and the Dallas Mavericks battle Anthony Edwards and the Minnesota Timberwolves. | Art by Mitzi Solano/One Sports

Luka Doncic waited two years for another crack at this moment. 

Anthony Edwards had to endure four years of falling short in the postseason. 

Now both superstars, part of the no.5 Dallas Mavericks and the no. 2 Minnesota Timberwolves respectively, remain as the last two teams standing in the West. 

Their series will begin on May 23, Thursday (PH time) in Minnesota. 

Dallas finally got over the LA Clippers hump after a six-game opening round win, while Minnesota opened its playoff campaign by dismantling the three-headed monster of Kevin Durant, Devin Booker, and Bradley Beal and the Phoenix Suns via sweep.

Then, both teams slayed top-heavy giants in their respective West semifinal assignments. 

The Mavericks eliminated the top-seed OKC Thunder in six games, while the Timberwolves dethroned the erstwhile champion Denver Nuggets with the biggest Game 7 comeback in playoff history. 


[ALSO READ: PJ Washington's clutch free throws send Dallas to Western Conference Finals]


[ALSO READ: Timberwolves crush Nuggets' heart with largest Game 7 comeback in NBA history]


Timberwolves vs Mavericks 2024 NBA regular season head-to-head: 

Minnesota and Dallas faced off in the regular season four times, with the Timberwolves winning three times. Although, Doncic missed two of those games and Irving missed three for the Mavericks. 

All of their regular season head-to-head was played before the Mavericks traded for Daniel Gafford and PJ Washington, who went on to play key roles in Dallas’ surging playoff run so far. 


Storylines to watch: 

Is the time now for Ant Man and the Minnesota Timberwolves? 

Without question, Anthony Edwards is the undisputed star of this year’s postseason. 



Edwards booted out his childhood idol, Kevin Durant and the Phoenix Suns in a dominating four-game sweep in the opening round. 


Next, he led the Minnesota Timberwolves to two straight road wins and a 2-0 lead over reigning Finals MVP Nikola Jokic and the champion Denver Nuggets in the West semifinals, before capping off the biggest Game 7 comeback in playoff history on the road.


In eleven playoff games so far, Edwards averaged 29 points, six rebounds, and six assists, leading his squad to their first Western Conference Finals appearance in two decades. 


If there's one characteristic that defines Edwards, it's his unwavering confidence. After the Wolves lost three straight in Games 3, 4 and 5 after going up 2-0, Ant Man showed resolve and led Minnesota’s 45-point game Game 6 at home and never giving up in Game 7 could be evidence enough that this team's time is now. 


 So the question is: can a team led by a 22-year-old star in Edwards be ready enough to barge into the NBA Finals and possibly go all the way to give Timberwolves their first title? 


 Just two years ago, Doncic -- just 23 at the time -- led the Mavericks to the conference finals, where they lost to the more-seasoned Golden State Warriors in five games.


Two seasons later, Dallas took their lumps and reloaded, trading for a former champion in Kyrie Irving last year and adding Washington and Daniel Gafford at the deadline this year. 

Unstoppable Force Meets Immovable Object


This Mavericks-Timberwolves series will feature the league's highest-scoring tandem against one of the best pairs of perimeter defenders. 

 Edwards already showed the Timberwolves' hand, declaring in his post-Game 7 interview that his matchup would be Irving. This means backcourt teammate Jaden McDaniels will be the primary defender on Doncic.

 Irving and Doncic have been nothing but marvelous for the Mavericks this playoffs, combining for 48.4 points despite the Slovenian superstar being slowed down with numerous injuries and Irving’s slow starts. 



The Wolves just finished putting Jamal Murray through the wringer and held the Nuggets’ star to just 40.3 percent from the field and 33.3 percent from three thanks to their elite defensive talent. 


 Can they do the same for Doncic and Irving? 


The Big Men Battle

As much as this series features a marquee battle of perimeter players, another grueling battle looms inside the shaded area. 


 Dallas put emphasis on upgrading their center rotation after last year's lottery finish. General manager Nico Harrison added Dereck Lively II from the draft and Gafford at the trade deadline, giving the Mavs a tag team of energetic lob threats and rim protectors. 


 Both Dallas bigs have made major contributions this postseason--particularly Lively, who was a force against the Thunder behind a series best plus-minus (plus-71) by a wide margin.


However, the youngsters will be facing a daunting challenge against a Minnesota team that starts two 7-footers in four-time Defensive Player of the Year Rudy Gobert and All-Star Karl-Anthony Towns, with reigning Sixth Man of the Year winner Naz Reid coming off the bench.

The Mavericks have secured at least 14 offensive rebounds in four games so far in the playoffs and they pounded the much smaller Thunder but how will they fare against this trio of Wolves’ big men?


Game 1 of the series will be on May 23, Thursday at 8:30 a.m. LIVE on One Sports, NBA TV Philippines and the Pilipinas Live app.