After a thrilling Game 7 win over the reigning champion Denver Nuggets, the Minnesota Timberwolves are set to face the Dallas Mavericks in the Western Conference Finals. While one of the toughest challengers in Minnesota’s way is now eliminated, the Wolves’ remaining pathway to immortality is not easy. As Minnesota looks to book their NBA Finals ticket, there are plenty of bold Timberwolves predictions to be made.

The Mavericks have really found themselves after a crazy trade deadline in which the team mortgaged their remaining tradeable first round draft assets for complementary pieces in PJ Washington and Daniel Gafford. Since the deadline, the Mavs finished the regular season hot and has since rattled off two strong postseason series wins. However, with Luka Doncic’s greatness, the Mavs’ expectations should be hanging banners in American Airlines Center, not just making the Conference Finals.

The Timberwolves are the last team standing in Dallas’ way with a chance at preventing a Finals appearance for Doncic and company. With two teams all-in on their respective rosters, let’s give some bold predictions for the 2024 Western Conference Finals between the Timberwolves and Mavericks.

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Kevin Garnett attends a Timberwolves’ home game

The first bold prediction is the arrival of Kevin Garnett at Target Center. The Big Ticket was the 2003-04 NBA MVP, which happens to be the last time the Wolves made the Conference Finals. The NBA Hall of Famer spent 14 seasons with Minnesota in his illustrious career.

KG has a long list of accolades from his Wolves’ tenure including All-Defense and All-NBA selections. But despite being a franchise icon, Garnett has not made it to a Wolves’ home game all season.

The best player in franchise history doesn’t even have his jersey number retired. His rumored beef with parts of Timberwolves’ ownership clearly has had an impact. However, KG has been vocal of his support for Minnesota on social media. On multiple occasions, Garnett has praised the Wolves’ young core and their defense-first approach. With the Timberwolves finally back in the Western Conference Finals, it would be fitting to see KG back in Target Center with a roaring home crowd.

Timberwolves defense flusters Luka Doncic 

Dallas Mavericks guard Luka Doncic (77) looks to pass while Minnesota Timberwolves guard Anthony Edwards (1) defends during the first quarter at Target Center.
Matt Krohn-USA TODAY Sports

While the Timberwolves’ defense has been elite all season, it’s not easy to fluster a player as talented as Luka Doncic. Arguably the best player in the world, Doncic’s greatness has allowed the Mavericks to transition from franchise legend Dirk Nowitzki to a new European wonder. The last half decade has been phenomenal for the face of the Mavericks.

For his career, Luka averages 28.7 points, 8.7 rebounds and 8.3 assists as a walking triple double threat. This season, Doncic went nuclear as the 2023-24 NBA scoring champion as he poured in 33.9 points per night to go along with a hearty 9.8 assists. His dominance and efficiency is otherworldly. Despite his consistent greatness, the Timberwolves have the pieces and scheme to fluster him.

Jaden McDaniels will likely draw the Doncic assignment most frequently. McDaniels’ slender and lengthy frame will be Minnesota’s best chance at erasing space for Luka to operate. In the past, Doncic has lost his cool against McDaniels including a quick ejection back in December, 2022. Doncic was upset after a no-call as McDaniels held Luka to just 19 points on a rough 5-17 shooting night.

Outside of McDaniels’ point of attack defense, the Timberwolves pick and roll defense gives Chris Finch options. Rudy Gobert has shown this postseason to be elite in both drop coverage and when asked to switch into space. Gobert effectively blanketed Kevin Durant, Devin Booker and the Phoenix Suns in Round 1. The Wolves will likely use the four-time DPOY on the Mavs’ bigs for long stretches this series.

However, Finch may also elect to place Karl-Anthony Towns on the Dereck Lively or Daniel Gafford matchup for stretches too. Gobert would then “defend” PJ Washington while really operating as a helpside roamer. With Towns involved in the screening action, Minnesota will form a “high wall” as Finch calls it. Effectively blitzing Doncic, Minnesota will force the ball out of the Slovenian’s hands and force other Mavericks to beat the elite Wolves’ defense with Gobert still protecting the rim.

Timberwolves win the series convincingly

With Minnesota’s ability to pivot between defensive coverages, they have more flexibility in this series. If something isn’t working, they have an easier route to adjust. Dallas also typically comes into series a little flat with Game 1 often being a feel out game for Jason Kidd. The Mavs are 0-5 in the five Game 1’s Kidd has coached since his hiring.

While the Mavericks are roaring as of late, the Timberwolves’ championship pedigree lies in their defense. The team that just took down the defending champs now has a date with destiny. Minnesota’s collection of offensive talent at times makes up for a struggling overall system that maybe doesn’t shoot enough threes. However, there’s an old saying, “Defense wins championships”.

Minnesota is the better team even if they don’t have the best player. They are loaded with talent. A four-time Defensive Player of the Year, another All-NBA center and an ascending young superstar in Anthony Edwards. Minnesota has the talent and the team identity. Now it’s go time. One series away from the first Finals berth in franchise history. The Timberwolves are destined to bring Minnesota to the promised land.