Dallas closes game on 13-3 run behind Doncic, Irving, win to take 3-0 lead over Minnesota

2024 NBA Playoffs - Minnesota Timberwolves v Dallas Mavericks
2024 NBA Playoffs - Minnesota Timberwolves v Dallas Mavericks

Everyone expected a tight Western Conference Finals — and it has been. The games are intense, physical, back-and-forth between two impressive teams.

Until the final minutes of the game.

That's when Luka Doncic and Kyrie Irving have taken over — Dallas has better closers.

Game 3 followed the basic pattern of the first two. It was tied with four minutes to go, but the game was all Dallas from that point. First, P.J. Washington hit a wide-open corner 3 (when Anthony Edwards fell asleep on defense). Then Doncic and Irving hit difficult two-point shots. Next, Doncic got inside the defense and threw Daniel Gafford the alley-oop with an and-1.

The Mavericks closed Game 3 with a 13-3 run to close and, with it, earned a 116-107 win.

Dallas now has a commanding 3-0 series lead with the chance to close the Western Conference Finals out Tuesday night at home.

This is a close series — it is just +13 Dallas through three games, and all three games have been tight late — but the difference has been Doncic and Irving. They scored 21 of their 66 combined points in Game 3 in the fourth quarter.

"They're just beating us one-on-one at the moment," Timberwolves coach Chris Finch said. "When we committed multiple guys to them in the first half we bled from the 3-point line. Again, I thought it was our offense that broke down more than anything, you've got to score along side of them.”

Minnesota is not scoring with them. Through three games, Doncic and Irving scored 70 more points than Edwards and Karl-Anthony Towns (the rest of the Timberwolves are +57 on the other Mavericks). The Mavericks duo is shooting 41.6% from 3, the Timberwolves pair is hitting 23.3%.

The playmaking from Doncic and Irving gets other guys going as well. P.J. Washington had 16 points again and another big 3 in the clutch.

True to his word, Anthony Edwards was more aggressive from the opening tip, but his shot was still not falling — he was 4-of-11 shooting in the first half.

That changed and it felt like this could be Minnesota's
night when Edwards changed the game's momentum with what is the best dunk of the playoffs so far.

That started an 8-0 personal run from Edwards that made it a game again after Dallas held around a 10-point lead since the middle of the second quarter. The game was tied at the end of three quarters, and tied with four minutes to go.

Dallas is winning those final minutes and they are winning the series.

One thing to watch from this game is the status of Dereck Lively II, who had to leave the game with what the team officially called a neck sprain after he was incidentally kneed in the head by Karl-Anthony Towns.

Lively is out of concussion protocol but his neck sprain could sideline him in Game 4 and beyond.

Lively has been critical to the Mavericks' rim protection, and on offense he was doing a good job playmaking when Doncic was blitzed and threw him the ball at the nail. The rookie has been outstanding in this series.

But even with him out at the end of Game 3, Doncic and Irving were too much and Gafford stepped up and made plays. If Dallas can do that one more time, it will be headed to the NBA Finals.