Mavericks vs. Timberwolves score, takeaways: Anthony Edwards, Karl-Anthony Towns help Wolves stay alive in WCF

The Minnesota Timberwolves kept their season alive and avoided a Western Conference finals sweep against the Dallas Mavericks with a 105-100 win in Game 4 on Tuesday night. Karl-Anthony Towns had his best game of the series with 25 points and Anthony Anthony Edwards missed a triple-double by one assist as the tone-setter for the Wolves, who forced a Game 5 on Thursday with the win on the road.

No team has ever come back from a 3-0 deficit to win a best-of-seven series in the NBA playoffs. Only four teams have ever forced a Game 7, including the Boston Celtics last season in the Eastern Conference finals. The 2024 Celtics are awaiting the winner of this series after sweeping the Indiana Pacers to win the East. The Celtics will host Game 1 of the 2024 NBA Finals on June 6.

Here are three takeaways from Minnesota's Game 4 win. 

Ant and KAT show

Through the first three games, the Wolves had lost the superstar battle with Anthony Edwards and Karl-Anthony Towns being outscored by Luka Doncic and Kyrie Irving by 70 points. That flipped in Game 4 as Ant and KAT outscored the Mavs' star duo 54-44 and on much higher efficiency. 

Towns, in particular, had been horrible, making just three of his 22 3-pointers. That's a 14% clip, the worst of his career through any three-game stretch, let alone the first three games of the conference finals. And he was rough in the first half again, posting just five points and getting himself into foul trouble yet again. 

But Towns got it going big time in the second half, connecting on four of his five 3-pointers for 20 points, his largest half of scoring this season. Meanwhile, Edwards was fantastic all night. He put up 14 points in the first quarter and then hit a wall for a while, and you wondered if he was getting tired again. 

But he never took his foot off the gas. Dallas big man Dereck Lively II being out with a neck injury opened up the rim and Edwards attacked downhill from the jump. He finished with 29 points, 10 rebounds and nine assists. He only shot 11 for 25, but he hit a couple 3s and some pull-up jumpers and, most importantly, got himself to the foul line eight times in the first quarter. 

True. Edwards didn't get back to the line the rest of the game, but the early ones established an aggression and from there he was making enough jumpers and drawing enough attention on drives to find shooters for good looks. That's the formula for Edwards, who is still not a consistent enough shooter to just rely on that but also can't expect to get all the way to the rim with the multiple bodies closing off his lanes. He has to strike a tough balance, and he did that in Game 4. 

Wolves finally close

Minnesota has led every game in this series with five minutes to play in the fourth quarter. The Wolves were finally able to close one thanks in large part to three Towns 3-pointers in less than three minutes and seven defensive stops over a 10-possession span. Minnesota shot 58% in the second half. 

This has been a far closer series than this 3-1 Dallas lead would indicate. The Mavericks only outscored the Wolves by 13 total points through the first three games. It has been about the final stretch each time, and it was not in the cards on Tuesday for Luka and Kyrie to seal the deal. 

Speaking of Kyrie ...

It was an off night for Irving, who remarkably lost the first potential closeout game of his playoff career. He is now 14-1 with a chance to send a team on vacation. Irving finished with 16 points on 18 shots. He made just one of his six 3-pointers. 

Dallas still had a shot down five with the ball and 38 seconds on the clock, but Irving threw a pass away to all but end it. Doncic finished with a 28-15-10 triple-double, but he didn't shoot particularly well either (7 for 21). Combined Dallas' backcourt went 13 for 39 from the field. 

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FINAL SCORE: Wolves 105, Mavericks 100

*Dallas leads series 3-1

  • Anthony Edwards: 29 points, 10 rebounds, 9 assists
  • Mike Conley: 14 points, 7 assists
  • Karl-Anthony Towns: 25 points (4-of-5 from 3)
  • Rudy Gobert: 13 points, 10 rebounds, 
  • Luka Doncic: 28 points, 15 rebounds, 10 assists
  • Kyrie Irving: 16 points, 4 assists
May 29, 2024, 3:12 AM
May. 28, 2024, 11:12 pm EDT
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Huge 3 for Towns!

KAT puts Minnesota up six with a monster 3. He's 4-for-4 from deep.Two minutes to play

May 29, 2024, 2:59 AM
May. 28, 2024, 10:59 pm EDT
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Minnesota trying to hang on

Wolves up three with four to play!

May 29, 2024, 2:56 AM
May. 28, 2024, 10:56 pm EDT
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Dallas can smell the Finals

The Mavericks have taken total control of the fourth quarter and you can feel the energy starting to build. Wolves are in a dicey spot. Tie game with eight minutes to play. 

May 29, 2024, 2:42 AM
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May 29, 2024, 2:36 AM
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3Q SCORE: Wolves 78, Mavericks 73

Minnesota is battling as it has all series. They've lost the first three games by a total of 13 points, and they are in position to win again here in Game 4. Can they extend the series back to Minnesota on Thursday? 

May 29, 2024, 2:29 AM
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Minnesota foul trouble

  • Towns: 5
  • Gobert: 4
  • Edwards: 4
May 29, 2024, 2:27 AM
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HALFTIME SCORE: Wolves 49, Mavericks 49

  • Anthony Edwards: 17 points (3 fouls)
  • Mike Conley: 13 points (5-of-8 shooting)
  • Karl-Anthony Towns: 5 points (3 fouls)
  • Luka Doncic: 17 points (4-of-13 shooting)
  • Kyrie Irving: 6 points, 3 assists
May 29, 2024, 1:48 AM
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Wolves first-half foul trouble

  • Towns: 3
  • Edwards: 3
  • Gobert: 3
May 29, 2024, 1:32 AM
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Wolves killing themselves

Minnesota has turned it over 8 times for 18 Dallas points (13-point disparity) and Edwards and Towns both committed pointless fouls for their third each. Minnesota has enough to deal with trying to control Luka and Kyrie; they can't keep playing sloppily on top of it. 

May 29, 2024, 1:31 AM
May. 28, 2024, 9:31 pm EDT
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Big night for Conley so far

Mike Conley is up to 11 points on 5-of-6 shooting. Together with Edwards (17), the Wolves' backcourt is outscoring Kyrie and Luka 28-17. 

May 29, 2024, 1:25 AM
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Exum making an impact

Dante Exum has come off the bench to hit a left-handed bank shot and a corner 3 for five quick points as the Mavericks have trimmed Minnesota's lead to three early in the second quarter. 

May 29, 2024, 1:13 AM
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1Q SCORE: Wolves 27, Mavericks 20

  • Anthony Edwards: 14 points on 4-of-7 shooting
  • Luka Doncic: 10 points, 2-of-4 from 3
May 29, 2024, 1:06 AM
May. 28, 2024, 9:06 pm EDT
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ANT forcing the action

As mentioned earlier, Lively's absence has emboldened the Wolves to attack the rim and Anthony Edwards is already at eight free throws in the first quarter. Minnesota has take 10 free throws to Dallas' two. Problem is, Edwards has missed three of those free throws, but the aggression is a good sign. 

May 29, 2024, 1:04 AM
May. 28, 2024, 9:04 pm EDT
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Minnesota attacking without Lively

Everything changed for the Wolves in Game 3 when Dereck Lively went out they started attacking the paint. Lively is out tonight and Gobert is already active with a couple bucket inside and Towns has gotten to the rim for a bucket. Anthony Edwards is attacking downhill. Lively's absence is a big factor in this game. 

May 29, 2024, 12:52 AM
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Ant takes early Luka assignment

Anthony Edwards starts out on Luka Doncic with Jaden McDaniels taking Kyrie Irving. 

May 29, 2024, 12:38 AM
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Mavericks vs. Wolves: Game 4 info

We're just a few minutes from tip-off in Dallas, where the Mavs are going for a sweep. Here's how to watch tonight:

Time: 8:30 p.m ET | Date: Sunday, May 28
Location: American Airlines Center -- Dallas
TV channel: TNT | Streaming: Watch TNT, Max
Odds: MIN +100, DAL -120, O/U: 211.5

NBA: Playoffs-Minnesota Timberwolves at Dallas Mavericks
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Mr. fourth quarter, right?

Mavericks' Kyrie Irving knows well how to bring it home. The NBA All-Star is 14-0 in his career in closeout games, which is the most wins without loss in NBA history. During those closeout games, he averaged 23.1 points and shot 47% from the field. He was too much for the Timberwolves late in Game 3. Can he pull it out again tonight? 

May 28, 2024, 11:45 PM
May. 28, 2024, 7:45 pm EDT
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It's do-or-die for Timberwolves

Minnesota has trailed 3-0 in a best-of-seven series just once in their history and responded well. Last year, they forced the eventual champion Denver Nuggets to a fifth game in the first round by winning 114-108 at home in Game 4. Can the Timberwolves do it again? They definitely have their work cut out for them.

May 28, 2024, 11:30 PM
May. 28, 2024, 7:30 pm EDT
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'This is their Super Bowl'

Mavs star Kyrie Irving seemed loose in pregame warm-ups on Tuesday night. Irving's team is up 3-0 in the series and playing at home. And Kyrie has more reason to feel comfortable in a closeout game: He is 14-0 all-time in the playoffs when his teams have the chance to move on to the next round.

Reporters heard Irving talking during a pregame shootaround, saying "This is their Super Bowl. It's just a normal game for us."

No team in NBA history has erased a 3-0 deficit to win a seven-game series. But Wolves' star Anthony Edwards is not lacking confidence. Edwards told his teammates "I still don't feel like they can beat us," after the Game 3 loss on Sunday night.

Minnesota will have to overcome NBA history and Irving's history if the team is going to advance to face the Celtics next month.