Insane irony from Mavericks' 2011 run to Finals could yield similar result again

Dallas Mavericks, Luka Doncic, Anthony Edwards
Dallas Mavericks, Luka Doncic, Anthony Edwards / David Berding/GettyImages

The Dallas Mavericks will begin the 2024 Western Conference Finals on Wednesday night in Minneapolis against the Minnesota Timberwolves in search of their first NBA Finals berth since 2011 following their wild Game 6 win over the Oklahoma City Thunder.

2024's opponent, the Timberwolves, has similarities to who the Mavericks defeated in the 2011 Western Conference Finals, the Thunder. The irony is happening in the eyes of Mavs fans is not only for the Mavs' opponent but also for the Mavs themselves.

Minnesota's roster is talented led by fourth-year player Anthony Edwards and big men Karl-Anthony Towns and Rudy Gobert. The trio are a deep threat to win the Western Conference. However, the Mavs saw something very similar to this in 2011 in their battle against the Thunder.

Insane irony from Mavericks' 2011 run to Finals could yield similar result again

In 2011, the Thunder were led by Kevin Durant who was in his fourth season in the NBA alongside Russell Westbrook and James Harden. Despite Harden not fully developing into a young superstar just yet, Serge Ibaka was a strong defensive threat who averaged 2.4 blocks per game in the 2010-11 season, just like Gobert who is a four-time Defensive Player of the Year.

The similarities between Edwards and Durant being young superstars while facing more experienced superstars (Dirk Nowitzki and Luka Doncic) stays true again, and Edwards is entering this matchup with confidence. Edwards has already said he'd be guarding Kyrie Irving, and this will be a huge defensive matchup to keep an eye on.

The Timberwolves are coming off an upset win in Game 7 against the defending NBA Champion Denver Nuggets in the second round. Before losing to Dallas in 2011, the Thunder came off of a Game 7 win in round two against the Memphis Grizzlies.

NBA legend Dirk Nowitzki was 32 years old when the Mavs won their first NBA title in franchise history in 2011. How old is superstar Kyrie Irving in 2024? He is 32 years old. More irony was made 13 years later.

Beating the Timberwolves in the Western Conference Finals won't be easy, but what's one way Dallas can upset Minnesota?

By shooting the three at a high clip.

In the second round, Denver struggled some offensively from the field against Minnesota, but they ended up shooting 45 percent from the field for the series (256-of-566). In the four losses Denver had, they scored under 100 points in all four games. Particularly in Game 6 when they scored 70 points. Denver had several ugly losses, and the Mavs must avoid getting suffocated by Minnesota's stout defense.

Gobert and Towns take a big chunk of the paint away when on the floor. While league MVP Nikola Jokic averaged 29 points per game in the series, no other Nugget averaged over 19 points per game.

Denver shot 35 percent (73-of-207) from three. Against the Thunder in round two, the Mavs shot 40 percent (83-of-209) from three. If the paint is defended by two elite big men, the three might be the key for Dallas and stretching the floor.

Not having Maxi Kleber due to a shoulder injury will hurt the Mavs considering he is the only player on the roster who has consistently been able to play the stretch five, but there is hope he could return later in the series. Jason Kidd said that he is improving as he recovers from this injury, and he was seen shooting free throws at practice last week.

Irving, Dante Exum, and P.J. Washington shot at least 40 percent from three in the OKC series. In Game 6, Dallas shot 47 percent (16-of-34) from three. Irving, Luka Doncic, and Derrick Jones Jr. each made four 3-pointers, and when Dallas' role players are knocking down shots, they are extremely tough to beat.

The key to the Mavs in the Western Conference Finals is to shoot the three well with Minnesota having to elite big men to clog up the paint and forcing them to defend some in space. With shooting well from three against the Thunder, the Mavs should look to do it again against the Timberwolves.