Mavericks young guard is turning into unexpected X-factor to make Finals

Dallas Mavericks, Jaden Hardy
Dallas Mavericks, Jaden Hardy / Kevin Jairaj-USA TODAY Sports
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Back to Minnesota, we go. The Dallas Mavericks fell to the Minnesota Timberwolves 105-100 on Tuesday, as the team struggled to shoot the ball. The Mavs failed to keep up with the Timberwolves, shooting 42 percent, in contrast to Minnesota who knocked down 52.7 percent of their attempts.

Stars Luka Doncic and Kyrie Irving struggled to knock things down, going 13-39 combined. Doncic shot 33 percent overall, while Irving went 1-6 from behind the 3-point line. P.J. Washington also failed to come through for the Mavs, going 22 percent from long range.

However, there were plenty of positives from the loss. Maxi Kleber returned to court, giving the team an extra big man down low. Dante Exum also got things going, scoring five points in under four minutes.

Jaden Hardy is turning into unexpected X-factor to make Finals

The biggest impact though was Jaden Hardy. The second-year guard has seen an increase in minutes during the playoffs and took full advantage of his opportunity Tuesday. Hardy scored 13 points in 12 minutes, shooting 75 percent from the 3-point line.

He also contributed in a variety of other ways. Hardy used his quickness to attack the rim and get quick buckets.

In another sequence, Hardy also went at Edwards and scored on a quick layup. Jason Kidd's trust in Hardy seems to be paying off, as the young guard has been taking advantage of the opportunity given to him.

Jason Kidd spoke about Hardy's progression after Game 4.

"You look at his ability to score, he's not scared, he knows how to play the game. He's playing at a high level for us and just understands we're going to need that from this point on. I think again the trust from his coaches, and also from his teammates, trust he's going to do the right thing. Again, on the road, we're going to need his scoring, his playmaking. "

Jason Kidd

Coach Kidd spoke about his impact on the court. He mentioned how Hardy seems to be getting more comfortable, as he gave the team that extra lift.

Hardy is having his best series against Minnesota. The young guard is averaging 7.5 points per game on 52.4 percent shooting. His agility and quickness stand out, as he isn't afraid to score from all over the court.

It's clear that Dallas loves having Hardy on the team. It's crazy to think the 6-foot-3 guard could have been nonexistent in the playoffs if the Mavs had signed Spencer Dinwiddie.

The Dallas Mavericks will now look to finish things off on Thursday, as rookie Dereck Lively II could be back on the court after suffering a neck sprain in Game 3. He was seen walking just fine after the Mavs' loss Tuesday.

So, with the possible return on Lively II and a rejuvenated Hardy, what are the chances Dallas finishes the series Thursday?

Stay tuned for all the latest updates on the Dallas Mavericks, and their quest for a second NBA Championship.

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