Reusse: Mavs have two best players in the series. Should Wolves panic?

The favored comment among hyped-up Timberwolves followers after Wednesday's 108-105 loss to Dallas at Target Center has been predictable.

That would be, "It's only one game and there's no reason to panic," and while the math on the current length of the Western Conference finals is easy, the belief must be stated that there are two reasons to panic.

Those would be Luka Doncic and Kyrie Irving.

Yes, it's not over at 1-0, not close to that, but when the other team has the two best players in the competition — more dangerous than the ANTs, KATs, NAWs, JMacs, etc. — then sudden fear or anxiety among fandom becomes reasonable.

Let's face it. Our club has "SlowMo" in Kyle Anderson, and they have the "Slow Monster" in Doncic — only 25, looks 32, but clutch beyond belief.

The Mavericks also have Irving, 32, but moving like he's 25, perhaps because he hasn't been exactly an ironman in recent times. There was a pandemic in there, of course, but he only played 103 regular-season games in the three seasons from 2019 to 2022.

Kyrie also didn't wear himself out in college playing at Duke for Mike Krzyzewski, back when the revered mentor (including by himself) was early in his transition from "We graduate our players" to Coach One-and-Done.

Due to injury, Irving only played 11 games — eight nonconference, three postseason — in his single 2010-11 season at Duke. That was enough to make him the first overall draft choice for the Cleveland Cavaliers.

That might seem surprising with Kyrie's limited résumé, until you are reminded the second pick was forward Derrick Williams to the Timberwolves.

The Days of The Kahn!

This is better by a significant margin, although when faced with rampant optimism from friends and colleagues before this series, I did offer this opinion:

"Kyrie Irving can be anything he chooses to be."

That being a reference to basketball and not more scholarly matters, although he did long ago back off on the claim that the Earth was flat, which was a leap forward for his reputation.

Dallas coach Jason Kidd was an all-time great point guard at 6-foot-4; strong, exceptional passer, good shooter.

In his media session before Wednesday's game, Kidd had the perfect description of one quality that makes the 6-foot-2 Irving unique: the ability to operate in "small spaces."

Nothing can be more vital for a guard in the NBA with its endless supply of large and exceptional athletes than making plays in small spaces.

When a kerfuffle has arisen in important regional basketball matters, and analyses of what happened and will happen are required, there is inevitably a call made to Terry Kunze — the most-dedicated basketball observer I know … Kunze and his big-screen TV, and his satellite packages to bring in hoops from everywhere.

For instance, this question on Thursday: "When did you first see Luka [Doncic]?"

Kunze: "When he was 16, playing for Real Madrid. Watched his games there for three years. He could flat-out shoot."

And then the former Duluth Central state champ [1961], the former Gopher, the former pro here and in Europe, the former coach, hoops running through his veins, was warmed up.

"Luka looks like he should by playing for Zelda's Bar and Grill," Kunze said. "He's a fat guy and can't guard anybody. Jaden [McDaniels] had five seconds to line up those threes last night because Luka doesn't get over there.

"But he's strong, and so clever, he can get his shot off or make a great pass. Must be a nice guy, too. When he's on the floor, players from the other team give him a hand to get up."

And Kyrie?

"I'll tell you what: He's as talented a guard as has been in the NBA," Kunze said. "It was a mistake having [Anthony] Edwards chasing Kyrie all over the court, trying to defend him.

"[Mike] Conley's an OK defender. Maybe [Nickiel] Alexander-Walker. And Kyrie's un-guardable anyway. Don't let Edwards use up his legs chasing Kyrie.

"Ant's a suspect shooter as it is, we all know that, without being tired. By the way … Alexander-Walker. He hasn't made a shot in three games. What's happened to him?

"They also should play Naz [Reid] more. They have to guard Naz."

Pause. "The Timberwolves have a good coaching staff," Kunze said. "There are going to be quite a few adjustments Friday. They aren't going to just fire up 49 threes again and give away the inside.

"I still see them winning this series."

Take heart, Woofies fans, with that surprise punchline from my man Kunze.