DALLAS — The Dallas Mavericks defeated the Minnesota Timberwolves 116-107 in Game 3 of the Western Conference Finals on Sunday night to take a 3-0 series lead. Kyrie Irving and Luka Doncic led the Mavs with 33 points each. PJ Washington added 16 points in the win.

Dallas entered the 2024 NBA playoffs as the No. 5 seed in the Western Conference. They have had to overcome the Los Angeles Clippers and Oklahoma City Thunder so far in the postseason. Now, the Mavs are one win away from defeating the Timberwolves. If they accomplish that feat, Dallas will have taken down the No. 4, No. 1, and No. 3 seeds in the West.

So how have the Mavericks played with so much confidence? After all, there were a number of critics who did not believe in this Mavs team.

“If you look at our regular season, I don't think it tells the whole truth of who we are, or who we were,” Kyrie Irving said after Sunday's victory. “I felt like the second-half of the season, everybody got to see what we were made of. But if you look at the beginning of the season, we were on pace for having a great season still. I think we would have finished one through three. That's playing hypotheticals, if I don't get injured or if Luka (Doncic) is not laboring a little bit… I take all that into account when I look at who we are now.

“We've grown over the past few months. This has been a journey for us. I like to think that being in fifth took some pressure off of us coming into this postseason. Everybody was looking at the top three seeds… The guys in the locker room have always had the utmost confidence in one another.”

The moment that changed everything for Kyrie Irving, Mavericks

Cleveland Cavaliers guard Max Strus (1) makes a last-second, game-winning three-point basket beside Dallas Mavericks guard Luka Doncic (77) in the fourth quarter against at Rocket Mortgage FieldHouse.
David Richard-USA TODAY Sports

Irving then proceeded to mention that a number of tough games helped the Mavericks overcome adversity. He even mentioned one specific game that most Dallas fans would like to forget.

“I think you guys remember that Cleveland game… Now it's in Cleveland history,” Irving said. “It had to be against me but I look at my teammates and I'm telling them, I was so pissed we lost there. But I want them to remember what that felt like where we took our foot off the gas pedal a little bit and then Max Strus hits a 59-footer. Breaks our heart and we go and lose in Indiana.

“So some of those moments, I think that could have broken our team, really made us who we are. I'm grateful for these guys just continuing to battle… It's a full team effort.”

Mavericks address team's confident mentality

Dallas Mavericks head coach Jason Kidd reacts in the fourth quarter against the Minnesota Timberwolves during game three of the western conference finals for the 2024 NBA playoffs at American Airlines Center.
Jerome Miron-USA TODAY Sports

Mavericks head coach Jason Kidd also addressed team's ability to tune out the noise and win despite the circumstances.

“We're just playing the game,” Kidd said. “We're trying to go out and win and put our best foot forward, we're playing a very talented and well-coached Minnesota team. I don't think we're on any platform reading. We're just actually a group that loves to play basketball on the biggest stage. We leave it to you guys to write the stuff and talk about it. We just answer the questions and we keep it moving. That's what's kind of cool about this group.”

PJ Washington, who said the Mavs did not feel like underdogs before the series began, echoed a similar sentiment after Game 3.

“We don't feel like we're the underdogs to anybody,” Washington said. “We just try to come out and play our game. Just make the right decisions each and every time and the game will go our way. Just try to be aggressive and just play great Mavs basketball.”

Kyrie Irving, Mavericks looking for sweep

Dallas Mavericks guard Kyrie Irving (11) reacts in the second half against the Minnesota Timberwolves during game three of the western conference finals for the 2024 NBA playoffs at American Airlines Center.
Jerome Miron-USA TODAY

The Mavs would love nothing more than to earn a sweep in the Western Conference Finals. It would provide the team with time to rest before the NBA Finals, where they will likely play the Boston Celtics barring a 3-0 comeback by the Indiana Pacers in the Eastern Conference Finals.

Additionally, winning Game 4 means the Mavericks would not have to travel back to Minnesota. The Mavs don't want to give the Timberwolves any hope in the series.

Dallas and Minnesota will go head-to-head on Tuesday night.