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Minnesota Timberwolves take on Dallas Mavericks in Western Conference finals: What you need to know

Jaden McDaniels' pals celebrate Wolves victory with WCCO's Mike Max
Jaden McDaniels' pals celebrate Wolves victory with WCCO's Mike Max 01:07

MINNEAPOLIS — For the first time in 20 years and the second time in franchise history, the Minnesota Timberwolves are playing in the Western Conference finals.

The Wolves are three wins away from their first trip to the NBA finals. To get there, they'll have to go through Luka Doncic, Kyrie Irving and the Dallas Mavericks.

Here's everything you need to know about the penultimate playoff matchup.

When do the Timberwolves play next? Western Conference finals full schedule.

The series kicked off Wednesday, May 22 in Minneapolis. The full schedule is below.

• Game 1: Mavericks at Timberwolves, Wednesday, May 22 (7:30 p.m.)
• Game 2: Mavericks at Timberwolves, Friday, May 24 (7:30 p.m.)
• Game 3: Timberwolves at Mavericks, Sunday, May 26 (7 p.m.)
• Game 4: Timberwolves at Mavericks, Tuesday, May 28 (7:30 p.m.)
• Game 5: Mavericks at Timberwolves, Thursday, May 30 (7:30 p.m.)
• Game 6 (if needed): Timberwolves at Mavericks, Saturday, June 1 (7:30 p.m.)
• Game 7 (if needed): Mavericks at Timberwolves, Monday, June 3 (7:30 p.m.)

What's the series record?

The Mavericks lead the series 3-1.

The Wolves led for long stretches of Game 1, but gave up the lead late and couldn't get it back, losing 108-105.

In Game 2, they blew an 18-point lead and lost 109-108 when Doncic hit a stepback three over Rudy Gobert with three seconds left.

The Mavericks once again turned it on late in Game 3 to beat the Wolves 116-107.

With their backs against the wall, the Wolves avoided the sweep by winning Game 4 105-100. Karl-Anthony Towns and Anthony Edwards stepped up, scoring 25 and 29 respectively. On defense, the Wolves held Doncic and Irving to 13 of 39 shooting.

How did the Wolves get here?

The No. 3 Wolves took on the No. 6 Phoenix Suns in the first round of the playoffs. The Wolves swept the Suns, and it wasn't even a competitive sweep — Minnesota won three games by double digits and held the Suns under 100 points twice. 

The second round series with the Denver Nuggets was a much taller task. After two wins in Denver — including a 26-point blowout in Game 2 — the Wolves dropped the next three. That put them in do-or-die mode, and did they ever do. Game 6 was a 45-point waxing in favor of the Wolves, who held the reigning NBA champions and MVP Nikola Jokic to just 70 total points.

In Game 7, the Wolves trailed by as much as 20 points in the second half. But a methodical comeback fueled by Towns, Jaden McDaniels and a defensive return to form gave them a 98-90 win and a ticket to the Western Conference finals. It was the biggest Game 7 comeback in NBA history, and it came 20 years to the day since the Wolves' last Game 7 win, when Kevin Garnett led Minnesota to an 83-80 win over the Sacramento Kings.

Who are the Mavericks' best players?

Dallas is led by the aforementioned duo of Doncic and Irving. The 27-year-old Doncic is a five-time All-Star who finished third in MVP voting this season. He was the league's top scorer this year, averaging 33.9 points a game along with 9.2 rebounds and 9.8 assists. In the playoffs, he's averaging 27.3 points, 9.7 rebounds and 9.1 assists.

Irving, 31, is an eight-time All-Star who has found his home as the No. 2 option in Dallas. He logged 25.6 points a night and had one of the best shooting seasons of his career this season. He has three 30-plus point games this postseason, though all came in the first round against the Los Angeles Clippers. In round two, he had two single-digit scoring performances against the Oklahoma City Thunder.

How did the Wolves do against the Mavericks in the regular season?

Minnesota went 3-1 against Dallas this season, though Doncic missed two of those games and Irving missed three. The only time the Wolves played against the Mavs' top two, Minnesota lost 115-108.

Who won the Eastern Conference finals?

The No. 1 Boston Celtics swept the No. 6 Indiana Pacers in the Eastern Conference finals. Boston will face either the Wolves or Mavericks in the NBA finals.

Naz Reid?

Naz. Reid.

Minnesota Timberwolves v Denver Nuggets - Game Seven
DENVER, COLORADO - MAY 19: Naz Reid #11 of the Minnesota Timberwolves dunks the ball against Nikola Jokic #15 of the Denver Nuggets during the fourth quarter in Game Seven of the Western Conference Second Round Playoffs at Ball Arena on May 19, 2024 in Denver, Colorado. C. Morgan Engel/NCAA Photos / Getty Images
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