Mavs Notes: Luka, Kyrie, Game 1 Takeaways, X-Factors

The Mavericks were victorious in Game 1 of the Western Conference finals on Tuesday behind 63 combined points from Luka Doncic and Kyrie Irving. It marked the first Game 1 win of the postseason for Dallas, which was playing on the road in Minnesota.

We had to work really hard to get this one,” Doncic said, per Eddie Sefko of “It’s big time. We know how tough it is to play in this place, especially against a team that has so many weapons, so it’s big-time to take this one. But it’s only one. We got three more to go.”

As Sam Amick of The Athletic writes, Irving was scorching hot in the first half, scoring 24 points on 11-of-14 shooting while being hounded by Anthony Edwards. It’s the latest example of Irving’s “basketball renaissance,” according to Amick, who points out that the 31-year-old has become a leader for the Mavericks and a key voice in the ear of Doncic.

At times when he reacted to turnovers (in Game 1), or passes that didn’t convert to baskets for us, I was just reminding him to keep his head up and realize where we are, the magnitude of this,” Irving said of Doncic. “A lot of guys look to him for emotional stability, and emotional strength. We know he’s one of the best scorers of all time… and he’s going out there and not necessarily playing well offensively in the first half.

(But) I know in the second half, he’s gonna be aggressive. We’ve been able to figure out that one-two punch of just playing the point guard role, playing that main scorer’s role and just not lacking in other areas in the basketball game. He can do other things, and I can do other things other than scoring. So when it’s his time to score, it’s my time to play defense and get up in a guy and contest shots and continue to do the little things that get us wins.”

Doncic was sensational closing the game, scoring 15 points on 5-of-8 shooting in the fourth quarter while making key defensive plays. He praised Irving’s first-half effort for keeping Dallas afloat, according to Sefko.

That was big time,” Doncic said of Irving. “We probably would have been down 20 if he hadn’t scored that many points. I appreciate him keeping us in the game.”

Here’s more on the Mavs:

  • The Timberwolves largely chose to stay at home on shooters in Game 1, limiting Dallas to just 6-of-25 (24.0%) from long distance, writes Tim Cato of The Athletic. Minnesota, by contrast, was 18-of-49 (36.7%) from deep. Being minus-36 points from three is typically a recipe for disaster, but the Mavs found success in the paint (62-38) and on the boards (48-40), showing the team’s ability to adapt, Cato notes. “We’re going to take whatever you give us,” head coach Jason Kidd said. “We want to promote 3s, but if you take the 3s away when you have that many points in the paint against the No. 1 team defensively, we’ll take it if that’s what you’re going to give us. I thought the group pivoted nicely by understanding what was available on the floor by (Minnesota) taking away the 3s.”
  • Jon Krawczynski, Zach Harper, Tim Cato and Tobias Bass of The Athletic provide their takeaways from Game 1. Game 2 tips off at 7:30 pm CT on Thursday.
  • ESPN insiders Tim MacMahon, Dave McMenamin and Brian Windhorst list the role players they believe could be the X-factors for the rest of the series. MacMahon chose Mavs forward P.J. Washington, while McMenamin took Timberwolves forward Jaden McDaniels and Windhorst selected Wolves point guard Mike Conley.
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