NBA: WCF Game 4: Wolves-Mavs Preview, Props, Trends

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The Dallas Mavericks have an opportunity to reach the NBA Finals for just the third time in franchise history when they seek to close out a sweep of the visiting Minnesota Timberwolves in Game 4 of the Western Conference finals Tuesday night.

TRENDING
The Mavericks entered the series as underdogs, but now find themselves as consensus 1.5-point favorites at home ahead of Game 4.

However, the public is siding with the Wolves to extend the series, backing them with 65 percent of the spread-line money at BetRivers. Minnesota’s +104 moneyline has also drawn 63 percent of the money at the book.

PROP PICKS
–Karl-Anthony Towns Over 29.5 points/rebounds/assists (-167 at BetRivers): This has been the most popular player prop in terms of money wagered at BetRivers. Towns’ struggles have been among the leading storylines this series, as the All-Star has gone 15-for-54 overall and 3-for-22 from the 3-point arc. He hasn’t gone over 28 points/rebounds/assists through the first three games of the series, but did average 33.1 for the season and figures to get on-track at some point.

–Anthony Edwards Over 26.5 Points (-118 at DraftKings): After being held to 33.3-percent shooting in two home losses, Anthony Edwards broke through for Minnesota with an 11-for-24, 26-point outing in Game 3. This has been the most popular player point prop at the book, despite Edwards averaging just 22 points per game in the series.

THE NEWS
The Mavericks scored 14 of the final 17 points for a 116-107 home win in Game 3 on Sunday night that left them five wins away from their second-ever NBA title, having captured the crown in their last visit to basketball’s grand stage in 2011.

Luka Doncic and Kyrie Irving scored 33 points each Sunday, but the Mavericks also got key contributions from P.J. Washington, Daniel Gafford and Derrick Jones Jr. in a win that gave them a 3-0 series lead.

Gafford, acquired in February from the Washington Wizards, had to put in yeoman’s work after big-man sidekick Dereck Lively II departed with a sprained neck in the third quarter. Gafford wound up playing a playoff career-high 29 minutes and saved his best for last, blocking a Mike Conley layup attempt with 56 seconds left before slamming down Doncic’s alley-oop pass 22 seconds later to clinch the win.

Gafford acknowledged after Sunday’s win that the Mavericks’ success inside is tied to the unselfish play of Doncic and Irving.

“We’re trying to find the seams and just what can put us in position to where we can help the team,” Gafford said. “Everybody just put trust in us to just finish around the basket. And that’s what we did.”

The last time the Mavericks had a 3-0 lead in a playoff series was in 2011 when they finished off the sweep of the Los Angeles Lakers in the West semifinals en route to the title.

When informed after the Game 3 win that no team in NBA history has ever blown a 3-0 lead in a playoff series, Irving wanted none of it.

“It means absolutely nothing right now,” Irving said of the 154 times a team won the first three games of a playoff series. “Going into Game 4, it’s still 0-0. And that’s the type of mentality we have in that locker room.”

INJURY REPORT
Lively went straight to the locker room after catching Karl-Anthony Towns’ knee to the back of his head while falling in pursuit of a rebound. He reportedly passed a concussion test, but his status for Game 4 remains uncertain. He was listed as doubtful on the Mavericks’ injury report Monday afternoon.

The Mavericks had better news with forward Maxi Kleber upgraded to questionable for Game 4. Kleber has not played since May 3 because of an AC joint shoulder separation.

THEY SAID IT
“I put up 1,500 shots a day. Shot so well all playoffs. Confidence extremely high, and to be having these unfortunate bounces, these looks are just not going in. It’s tough. I don’t mean to smile, but you have to laugh. It’s very disappointing.”
–Towns on his shooting struggles after missing all eight 3-point attempts in Game 3.

–Field Level Media

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