Luka Doncic and Kyrie Irving's roads have been vastly different before this NBA Playoffs run. Then, Jason Kidd along with the Dallas Mavericks front office had a great idea of having the two under the same system. The path was rocky from the start but the additions of Dereck Lively II, PJ Washington, and Daniel Gafford seemed to have helped. Now, they are only a win away after decimating the Minnesota Timberwolves for three straight games.

Just another triumph against the Timberwolves

May 22, 2024; Minneapolis, Minnesota, USA; Dallas Mavericks guard Luka Doncic (77) shoots against Minnesota Timberwolves guard Anthony Edwards (5) in the fourth quarter during game one of the western conference finals for the 2024 NBA playoffs at Target Center. Mandatory Credit: Bruce Kluckhohn-USA TODAY Sports
© Bruce Kluckhohn-USA TODAY Sports

“One more,” were the words that Luka Doncic whispered to Kyrie Irving after their 116 to 107 win over the Timberwolves.

If all goes well, they could certainly make that aspiration come true. The Anthony Edwards-led squad had no answer for these two. Luka Doncic and Kyrie Irving just took turns manipulating the Timberwolves defense in different positions. This led to a 33-point outing for each of them and everything looked fairly similar.

For Luka Doncic, it was starting the play off the perimeter and expecting the blitz. He was clearly prepared for every time the Timberwolves sent a help defender. So, the Mavericks superstar easily got to his spot and notched an easy driving lane layup or a pull-up elbow jump shot. These sequences allowed him to 10 for 20 on the field and five for 11 on three-pointers. All of this along with eight of his 10 free throws finding the bottom of the net added up to 33 points.

Kyrie Irving, on the other hand, was seemingly either left alone to dominate defenders on isolation plays or was making the right cuts off-ball. This Mavericks veteran made the Timberwolves defenders pay for leaving him any space to operate. Overall, he shot 12 for 20 from all three levels of scoring and was 50% with his outside stroke. The game ended with him and his running mate having the same piece of the pie.

These two did not just do an excellent work on offense. Their defensive execution was also flawless. They combined for 1o rebounds, a steal, and a block. Despite most of those coming from Doncic, it was Irving's astounding ability to lock down his man or multiple Timberwolves on one defensive possession that allowed his teammate to get the statistics. It might not be as evident but the intricacies of their movements show it.

The two paths of the Mavericks' star guards

Both of them were heralded as the future of the league and changed the way the guard position was played. Irving came in first with the Cleveland Cavaliers. His flashy moves and athletic but soft finishes around the rim made hoopers all around the world do gravity-defying drills. He then found some success with LeBron James and won the 2016 NBA Finals after going down three games to one.

What came after was not as eventful. Irving found himself hopping teams. He went from the Boston Celtics all the way to the Brooklyn Nets before calling the Mavericks his home. Now, he has a shot to replicate the glory he experienced in the NBA Playoffs eight years ago. Irving is now the sage player like LeBron was and has a chance to use his past to lead Doncic into glory.

Doncic was also deemed as the next big thing. He came from Real Madrid and was initially picked by the Atlanta Hawks. Mark Cuban and the rest of the Mavericks wanted him so badly that they traded for him. Every year since then, he has knocked down a super team in the NBA Playoffs but never made it this far. The last time he was here, they got absolutely molly-whopped by the Golden State Warriors. All that experience has been bottled up to grant him the will and skill to get to this moment.