Well, that was a rough start to their first Western Conference Finals game in ages. Coming off a scintillating Game 7 win, the Minnesota Timberwolves came into Game 1 of the WCF with high hopes. However, it felt like Minnesota came a little bit unprepared against the Dallas Mavericks. While they weren't blown out, it felt like the ‘Wolves were just playing catch-up all game long instead of setting the tempo.

With the loss, the Timberwolves have squandered home court advantage to the Mavericks. That's never a good feeling. Head coach Chris Finch talked about their film session after Game 1 and what he told his players, per Jerry Zygoda of the Star Tribune.

“”It was a rough film session,” Wolves coach Chris Finch said. “I told the guys, ‘It has been a long time since I've been this disappointed in your effort. Your performance, your attitude and attention to detail just wasn't there.' The Western Conference finals started. Not sure if they got the memo. But they got it this afternoon.””

What makes the loss even more painful is that the Timberwolves had every opportunity to secure the win. Dallas had a clear game plan: shut down the interior and dare the Wolves to beat them from deep. They went extremely hard on the tactic… and it worked, with Minnesota shooting 49 (!!!) threes and making 18. Even with Karl-Anthony Towns and Anthony Edwards having an off game, Minnesota had a chance to win the game.

The Timberwolves now find themselves on the opposite end of their series against the Nuggets. They do not want to go to the American Airlines Arena down 0-2 while staring down a raucous Mavericks crowd.

Timberwolves' series outlook

Dallas Mavericks forward Derrick Jones Jr. (55) controls the ball against Minnesota Timberwolves center Rudy Gobert (27) in the third quarter during game one of the western conference finals for the 2024 NBA playoffs at Target Center.
Jesse Johnson-USA TODAY Sports

Despite the rough loss, the Timberwolves aren't out of this series: not by a long shot. They took the Mavericks' best punch on the chin and came this close to coming out as the victory. A few more made baskets or a few more stops and the Timberwolves will be holding the advantage in this series.

Luka Doncic scored 33 points in the game, while Kyrie Irving had 30 points as the Mavericks star duo balled out against the Timberwolves. On the other hand, Edwards had 19 points on 6-16 shooting, while Towns had 16 on 6-20 shooting. It's a terrible outing for the two stars that have been pretty solid for the most part for the Wolves this year.

If there's one thing the Timberwolves fanbase can bank on, though, it's that this team will make the necessary adjustments to their game plan. Edwards himself admitted that the team was blindsided by the bold strategy that the Mavs pulled on them.

“We didn't really know what to expect,” Edwards said. “I came off and I was open a bunch of times and took the shots. I'll make them next time. I have to live with it.”

As Edwards said, things are bound to bounce back for the Timberwolves in Game 2. They just need to stick to what they do best: make life hell for their opponents on offense, and punish the defense's mistakes with timely buckets. Getting into a shootout against the streaking Mavericks is a death wish. Locking them down is a far better option.