3 Studs, 2 duds from Mavericks' thrilling Game 1 win over Timberwolves

Dallas Mavericks, Luka Doncic
Dallas Mavericks, Luka Doncic / Jesse Johnson-USA TODAY Sports
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4. Dud - Daniel Gafford in the first half

Dallas Mavericks center Daniel Gafford had a great run as Dallas' starting center during the regular season, but during the playoffs, it has been a bit of a different story. Gafford has clearly been outplayed by Dereck Lively II, and that continued into the start of the Western Conference Finals.

Gafford finished with 10 points, nine rebounds, and one block, and his offensive impact was neutral for most of the game. Dallas got him involved early in the second half with a couple of dunks, but outside of that, he wasn't the best.

He doesn't look comfortable when the ball is in his hands out of the short roll like Lively II does, and he didn't get involved much in the pick and roll in the first half of the game.

Gafford's minutes in the first half compared to Lively II's were night and day, and Gafford was a -9 compared to Lively II's +6 in the first half. Plus/minus can be a bit of a misleading stat, but it was clear who was better in the first half. Even at the end of the game, Gafford finished as a -15 while Lively II finished as a +19.

The Mavs are going to need Gafford to return to playing at his midseason form quickly, as Dallas is at their best when they have their elite one-two punch going. He has been impactful protecting the rim and is a big body down low while defending Rudy Gobert in the paint, but his decision-making and basketball IQ have been subpar.

Nitpicking at Gafford's first half is a little critical considering how much better he played in the second half, but he just has to be a little bit better.