NBA Playoffs: Mavericks humiliate Timberwolves in Game 5 elimination, advance to NBA Finals

The Dallas Mavericks dominated Game 5 of the Western Conference finals, leaving the Minnesota Timberwolves trailing by double digits by the end of the first quarter. With the Target Center eerily quiet, it seemed like Luka Dončić was on track to score a staggering 80 points.

Unfortunately for the Timberwolves, the game only went downhill from there. Just two days after a thrilling victory that saved their season, they were swiftly eliminated from the NBA Playoffs. The game was hardly competitive, with the Mavericks establishing a commanding lead after just 12 minutes and essentially sealing the victory by halftime. The score was a staggering 69-40 when the teams retreated to the locker room, and the final result was a resounding 124-103 in favor of the Mavericks.

With this victory, the Mavericks secured their spot in the NBA Finals, where they will face the Boston Celtics. This marks their first trip to the Finals since their championship win in 2011.

The driving force behind the Timberwolves’ downfall was none other than Luka Dončić. In this game, he showcased his skills with an impressive 36 points on 14-of-22 shooting, along with 10 rebounds, five assists, and two steals. Dončić was rightfully awarded the MVP of the series, averaging an outstanding 32.4 points throughout the five games.
With his impressive 20 points in the first quarter, the Mavericks quickly gained a significant lead that continued to expand. It would have been less surprising if the team hadn’t pulled off the exact same feat in an elimination game two years ago.

During the second quarter, the Mavericks dominated the Timberwolves with a series of powerful dunks, and even TNT’s Ernie Johnson couldn’t help but join in the excitement during the halftime show.

Entering the second half, the Timberwolves faced the daunting task of mounting the largest halftime comeback in NBA playoff history. Unfortunately for them, the third quarter started with a Dončić alley-oop to P.J. Washington. Despite this setback, the quarter was actually a slight improvement for Minnesota as they were only trailing by 24 points going into the fourth.
Kyrie Irving took charge in the second half, leading the charge to keep the Timberwolves at bay. He matched Dončić’s impressive 36-point performance, while also contributing five assists and four rebounds. Meanwhile, Mavericks rookie Dereck Lively II made history by going a perfect 16-for-16 from the field, mostly on easy alley-oops.

With three minutes left in the game, the Timberwolves surrendered, and Mavericks owner Mark Cuban showed his support by embracing his players on the sideline.

As the Timberwolves head into the offseason, they have some lingering questions. The bright side is that they have Anthony Edwards locked in until 2029. This season has proven that Edwards is a legitimate superstar, and acquiring such talent is often the most challenging part of winning an NBA championship.

However, it’s hard not to wonder what the team could do if the current roster falls short of ultimate success.
The team’s offseason is overshadowed by the looming question of finances, including how much the team is willing to spend and who will be the recipients of that money. The team’s ownership situation has become a battle between owner Glen Taylor and potential majority owners Alex Rodriguez and Marc Lore. Ultimately, it comes down to a choice between a man who has paid a total of $1.5 million in luxury tax since 2004 and the individuals he claims will further reduce the team’s payroll.

With the extensions of Edwards and Jaden McDaniels taking effect this summer, the Minnesota team has already committed $190.8 million to nine players for the next season, surpassing the NBA’s proposed tax threshold of $171.3 million.
Retaining the current roster for the Timberwolves entails a significant financial commitment from ownership, in addition to potential additions. Despite being in his ninth year, Karl-Anthony Towns continues to grapple with inconsistent performances that have plagued him since the early stages of his career. At 36 years old, Mike Conley’s age is a concern. Furthermore, Rudy Gobert becomes eligible for an extension in two years, following Minnesota’s acquisition of him with a substantial amount of draft capital. It is uncertain whether Jaden McDaniels will prove to be more than just average, and Naz Reid’s free agency looms in 2025.

Although the Timberwolves displayed promise during the regular season and their Game 7 victory over the defending champions, the Denver Nuggets, seemed significant, their recent defeat against the Dallas Mavericks raises doubts about their ability to successfully repeat their performance next season.

What does this mean for Minnesota? It appears unlikely that they can move forward without making a trade, which may involve parting ways with a star player such as Towns or Gobert. The extent of their willingness to make a significant move remains to be seen.