Mavericks must continue to expose Timberwolves' glaring weakness

Dallas Mavericks, Kyrie Irving
Dallas Mavericks, Kyrie Irving / David Berding/GettyImages

When the Dallas Mavericks began the 2024 Western Conference Finals against the Minnesota Timberwolves, one area the Mavericks thrived in during their series against the Oklahoma City Thunder, a barrage from downtown, wasn't working.

Luka Doncic, Kyrie Irving, and the Mavs needed to find alternative ways to score as no one's shots were falling.

In Dallas' 108-105 win in Game 1, Dallas was able to attack an area some felt would be difficult to score. No one expected Dallas to be able to score in the paint against Minnesota as they did in Game 1, and this ultimately helped them get the win.

Mavericks must expose Timberwolves' drop coverage and attack the paint

Heading into Game 1, some fans and media thought that one key to the series would be to shoot the ball from three at a high clip. Dallas shot 25 3-pointers in Game 1, but only connected on six which was good for 24 percent. So how did Dallas pull out a win?

By attacking the paint.

When four-time Defensive Player of the Year Rudy Gobert and Karl-Anthony Towns are on the court, they can clog up the paint. But, it didn't appear to bother the Mavs. In Game 1, 62 of Dallas' points came in the paint. How were they able to do it?

One way was to execute the pick-and-roll game. The Timberwolves had a difficult time handling the pick and roll as they were heavily playing drop coverage, and the Mavs took advantage of it.

Smart passing with speed was another reason the Mavs were able to execute. The Mavs are the fastest team that the Timberwolves have played in the 2024 NBA Playoffs. The Timberwolves previously defeated an aging Suns team and a Nikola Jokic led Nuggets team. But, the Mavs have speed and precision passers, and it was clear they had tired out Minnesota by the end of the game, especially Anthony Edwards.

Kyrie Irving and Luka Doncic combined for 12 of Dallas' 21 Game 1 assists. The Mavs got a spark with Dereck Lively II and Jaden Hardy combining for 7 assists off the bench, and Hardy's playmaking continues to grow as these playoffs progress.

When the Mavs weren't scoring two-pointers, they executed in free-throw shooting. In Game 1, the Mavs shot 94 percent (16-of-17) from the free-throw line. Minnesota struggled as they shot 61 percent (11-of-18). Mavs fans saw how detrimental free-throw shooting can be at times during the Thunder series, but they completely turned it around in Game 1 against Minnesota.

Game 2 will be another tough road test for the Mavs, but if they can replicate what they did by attacking the points in the paint, they should be able to put up another tough game if the Timberwolvess continue to play drop coverage.

Minnesota did start to blitz some at the end of the game, but that could pose a problem for them as well as Irving and Doncic could pick their defense apart.

For all the latest on Luka Doncic, Kyrie Irving, and the Dallas Mavericks, stay tuned.