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Offseason | NBA Week 26

WCF Game 4: Wolves-Mavs Preview, Props, Trends

Tue May 28 4:54pm ET
Field Level Media

The Dallas Mavericks have an opportunity to reach the NBA Finals for just the third time in franchise history when they seek to close out a sweep of the visiting Minnesota Timberwolves in Game 4 of the Western Conference finals Tuesday night.

TRENDING

The Mavericks entered the series as underdogs, but now find themselves as consensus 1.5-point favorites at home ahead of Game 4.

However, the public is siding with the Wolves to extend the series, backing them with 65 percent of the spread-line money at BetRivers. Minnesota's +104 moneyline has also drawn 63 percent of the money at the book.


PROP PICKS

--Karl-Anthony Towns Over 29.5 points/rebounds/assists (-167 at BetRivers): This has been the most popular player prop in terms of money wagered at BetRivers. Towns' struggles have been among the leading storylines this series, as the All-Star has gone 15-for-54 overall and 3-for-22 from the 3-point arc. He hasn't gone over 28 points/rebounds/assists through the first three games of the series, but did average 33.1 for the season and figures to get on-track at some point.

--Anthony Edwards Over 26.5 Points (-118 at DraftKings): After being held to 33.3-percent shooting in two home losses, Anthony Edwards broke through for Minnesota with an 11-for-24, 26-point outing in Game 3. This has been the most popular player point prop at the book, despite Edwards averaging just 22 points per game in the series.

THE NEWS

The Mavericks scored 14 of the final 17 points for a 116-107 home win in Game 3 on Sunday night that left them five wins away from their second-ever NBA title, having captured the crown in their last visit to basketball's grand stage in 2011.

Luka Doncic and Kyrie Irving scored 33 points each Sunday, but the Mavericks also got key contributions from P.J. Washington, Daniel Gafford and Derrick Jones Jr. in a win that gave them a 3-0 series lead.

Gafford, acquired in February from the Washington Wizards, had to put in yeoman's work after big-man sidekick Dereck Lively II departed with a sprained neck in the third quarter. Gafford wound up playing a playoff career-high 29 minutes and saved his best for last, blocking a Mike Conley layup attempt with 56 seconds left before slamming down Doncic's alley-oop pass 22 seconds later to clinch the win.

Gafford acknowledged after Sunday's win that the Mavericks' success inside is tied to the unselfish play of Doncic and Irving.

"We're trying to find the seams and just what can put us in position to where we can help the team," Gafford said. "Everybody just put trust in us to just finish around the basket. And that's what we did."

The last time the Mavericks had a 3-0 lead in a playoff series was in 2011 when they finished off the sweep of the Los Angeles Lakers in the West semifinals en route to the title.

When informed after the Game 3 win that no team in NBA history has ever blown a 3-0 lead in a playoff series, Irving wanted none of it.

"It means absolutely nothing right now," Irving said of the 154 times a team won the first three games of a playoff series. "Going into Game 4, it's still 0-0. And that's the type of mentality we have in that locker room."

INJURY REPORT

Lively went straight to the locker room after catching Karl-Anthony Towns' knee to the back of his head while falling in pursuit of a rebound. He reportedly passed a concussion test, but his status for Game 4 remains uncertain. He was listed as doubtful on the Mavericks' injury report Monday afternoon.

The Mavericks had better news with forward Maxi Kleber upgraded to questionable for Game 4. Kleber has not played since May 3 because of an AC joint shoulder separation.

THEY SAID IT

"I put up 1,500 shots a day. Shot so well all playoffs. Confidence extremely high, and to be having these unfortunate bounces, these looks are just not going in. It's tough. I don't mean to smile, but you have to laugh. It's very disappointing."

--Towns on his shooting struggles after missing all eight 3-point attempts in Game 3.

Player Notes
Pascal Siakam Thu Jun 20 12:10pm

ESPN Senior NBA Insider Adrian Wojnarowski has reported that Pascal Siakam plans to sign a new maximum deal with the Indiana Pacers, worth $189.5 million over four years. The All-NBA forward is expected to sign the new contract once the league's free agency moratorium ends on July 6. After a mid-season trade from the Toronto Raptors, Siakam became a major part of Indiana's success, helping lead the team to the Eastern Conference Finals. In 41 regular season games with the Pacers, the 30-year-old averaged 21.3 points per game while shooting 55% from the field in 41 regular-season.

Gary Payton II Thu Jun 20 12:10pm

ESPN NBA reporter Kendra Andrews has reported that point Gary Payton II has chosen to remain in Golden State with the Warriors after opting into his $9.1 million player option for next year. The 31-year-old guard averaged 5.5 points and 2.6 rebounds while shooting 56.3% from the field this past season. However, his health remains a concern. Payton only played in 44 games as several injuries forced him to be sidelined. He missed games in November and December with a calf strain, and then a hamstring strain cost him time in January and February. The Warriors hope to get more production from Payton moving forward.

LeBron James Thu Jun 20 12:10pm

According to Los Angeles Lakers forward LeBron James' agent, Rich Paul, his client won't suit up for the Suns this season on a minimum contract. Speculation began to swirl about the possibility of James playing in Phoenix after his son, Bronny James, worked out for the club. However, it appears even if the Suns select the 19-year-old in the 2024 NBA Draft, it won't be enough to coax his father into joining Kevin Durant, Devin Booker, and Bradley Beal. Without question, the multi-time All-Star is nearing the end of his career. Yet, despite injuries, he's still productive, finishing the 2023-24 campaign by averaging 25.7 points, 8.3 assists, 7.3 rebounds, and 1.3 steals while shooting a career-high 41.0% from deep. At any rate, James still needs to decline his $51.4 million player option to enter unrestricted free agency, with his decision expected to come soon.

Bruce Brown Thu Jun 20 12:10pm

According to NBA insider Marc Stein, the Toronto Raptors are expected to pick up the team option of guard/forward Bruce Brown. The 27-year-old won an NBA championship with the Nuggets in 2022-23. However, after signing with the Indiana Pacers, he was dealt to Toronto ahead of the 2023-24 trade deadline. He appeared in 34 games for the Raptors, although his statistical contributions declined, averaging 9.6 points, 3.8 rebounds, and 2.7 assists. Nonetheless, the Raptors could end up trading him at some point during the 2024-25 campaign, potentially increasing his production.

Al Horford Wed Jun 19 3:30pm

Boston Celtics forward/centerAl Horfordwill be returning for his 18th NBA season next year. Celtics owner Wyc Grousbeck was on The Greg Hill Show on WEEI, a local Boston radio station, and said, "Al is coming back for next year. That's what I've been told." At 38 years old, Horford won his first NBA championship on Monday as the Celtics defeated the Mavs 106-88. He's suited up for 186 postseason contests and averaged 33.8 minutes, 12.2 points, 8.0 rebounds, 3.3 assists, and 1.2 blocks in his career.

Pascal Siakam Wed Jun 19 3:30pm

According to Scott Agness of Fieldhouse Files, Indiana Pacers forward/centerPascal Siakam is close to signing a long-term contract extension with the team. Siakam had a solid first season as a Pacer and should receive a maximum deal. The All-Star forward compiled averages of 21.3 points, 7.8 rebounds, and 3.7 assists in 41 regular-season contests with the Pacers. In January, he was traded from Toronto for Bruce Brown,Jordan Nwora and three first-round picks.

OG Anunoby Wed Jun 19 3:30pm

New York Knicks forward OG Anunoby might end up elsewhere this offseason. Per ESPN's Brian Windhorst, there have been "indications" that Anunoby may want to test the market as a free agent because he is "not thrilled" with what the Knicks are offering. Reports suggest that Anunoby could land a contract worth $35-40 million per year in free agency. Anunoby was a very good fit with the Knicks after arriving from Toronto on Dec. 30. He averaged 14.1 points, 4.4 rebounds, 1.7 steals, and 1.0 blocks with the team. The Knicks had a fantastic 20-3 regular-season record with him in the lineup.

Bojan Bogdanovic Wed Jun 19 3:30pm

New York Knicks forward Bojan Bogdanovic is set to become a trade piece. According to Michael Scotto of HoopsHype, the Knicks are expected to guarantee Bogdanovic's contract for 2024-25, which would make him a trade candidate for the final season of his deal. Bogdanovic has a $19 million deal in place for next season, but only $2 million of it is guaranteed. The Croatian veteran moved to New York in February in a trade with the Detroit Pistons, averaging 10.4 points and 2.0 rebounds in 19.2 minutes off the bench. He was a good bench piece for the team, but the Knicks could be looking to use his contract in a trade for a star player.

Patty Mills Wed Jun 19 3:30pm

Miami Heat point guard Patty Mills wants to continue his playing career. Mills will turn 36 in August but is eager to remain in the NBA after splitting the 2023-24 campaign between Atlanta and Miami. "I take really good care of myself and my body and the plan is to continue to play until the wheels fall off is how I see it," Mills told Ira Winderman of The South Florida Sun-Sentinel. Mills, who won the NBA championship with San Antonio in 2014, has mostly been used as a veteran presence on teams in recent seasons. He was limited to 13.0 minutes and 4.0 points in 32 appearances in 2023-24.

Klay Thompson Tue Jun 18 3:20pm

According to Shams Charania of The Athletic, impending free-agent guard Klay Thompson is open to all "external options" in free agency this summer. The Warriors want him back. However, it remains to be seen how much Golden State is willing to bid for his services. But considering teams like the Orlando Magic could make Thompson a lucrative offer, his future with the Warriors is all but guaranteed. The 34-year-old averaged 17.9 points last season, his fewest since the 2012-13 campaign. He also started in just 63 of his 77 appearances after getting pulled briefly from the first five during the year. While Thompson's production is frustrating for fantasy managers, he could benefit from a change of scenery, especially if he remains in the starting lineup.

Jaylen Brown Tue Jun 18 3:20pm

Boston Celtics guard/forward Jaylen Brown was named the 2024 Bill Russell NBA Finals MVP after the team closed out Dallas with a 106-86 victory on Monday. Brown, who was also voted the Eastern Conference Finals MVP during Boston's successful playoff campaign, had 21 points, eight rebounds, six assists, and two steals in the title-clincher. He averaged 20.8 points in the Finals with 5.4 rebounds, 5.0 assists and 1.6 steals. The 27-year-old is the seventh Celtics player to be named the Finals MVP, the first since Paul Pierce in 2008. Brown has just entered his prime and should remain a valuable fantasy piece for a long time.

Jayson Tatum Tue Jun 18 3:20pm

Boston Celtics forward Jayson Tatum closed out the 2024 NBA Finals in style, going close to a 30-point triple-double in Monday's title-clincher against Dallas. He led all scorers with 31 points and registered eight rebounds and 11 assists with two steals. The Boston star had two 30-point efforts in the five-game series and ended up as the team leader in points, rebounds, and assists. However, the 2024 Finals MVP award went to Tatum's partner in crime, Jaylen Brown. Tatum's scoring numbers dropped in 2023-24, but he recorded a career-high 4.9 assists and had another good fantasy year overall.

Kristaps Porzingis Tue Jun 18 3:20pm

Boston Celtics forward/center Kristaps Porzingis (leg) returned to the court in Game 5 of the 2024 NBA Finals against Dallas on Monday. Despite carrying a leg injury, he contributed six points in 16 minutes off the bench as the team earned banner No. 18 with a 106-88 win. Porzingis, who became the first Latvia native to win an NBA championship, has been diagnosed with a torn medial retinaculum, allowing dislocation of the posterior tibialis tendon. The 28-year-old told ESPN that he will require surgery and have a recovery process of a "few months." Porzingis had another injury-riddled campaign in 2023-24, and his health status is definitely something fantasy managers must consider when planning for the new season.

Al Horford Tue Jun 18 3:20pm

Boston Celtics forward/center Al Horford had a special night on Monday as the team finished off Dallas in the 2024 NBA Finals with a 106-88 win. He shook off an unwanted status as the active player with the most playoff appearances without winning an NBA championship. Horford, who made his debut with Atlanta in 2007-08, played in his 186th career playoff game on Monday. He had a good all-around outing with nine points, nine rebounds, two assists, and two steals. The 38-year-old, who also became the first Dominican-born player to win an NBA championship, filled in admirably for Kristaps Porzingis as the starting center throughout the postseason. James Harden is now the record-holder among active players with 166 playoff contests without winning a ring, while Karl Malone has the all-time mark with 193 games.

Luka Doncic Tue Jun 18 3:20pm

Dallas Mavericks point guard Luka Doncic recorded 28 points, 12 rebounds, five assists, and three steals as his squad failed to extend the NBA Finals against Boston on Monday. Doncic received very little support from his teammates in a 106-88 defeat. It was a disappointing finish to an otherwise outstanding campaign for Doncic, who led the NBA in scoring in 2023-24 and produced 21 triple-doubles. He was also the top scorer in the Finals with 29.2 points per game and became the first player in history to average at least 25 points, five rebounds, five assists, and two steals in the Finals.

Kyrie Irving Tue Jun 18 3:20pm

Dallas Mavericks guard Kyrie Irving managed only 15 points on 5-for-16 shooting in Monday's 106-88 Game 5 loss against Boston. The Mavericks offense struggled right from the off, and Irving was forced to watch his former team celebrate the championship in the end. He was 3-for-9 with the three-ball and picked up three rebounds, nine assists, and one steal. Irving was fantastic in the Conference Finals against Minnesota, but very little went his way in his fourth NBA Finals series. The veteran star, who is now 1-3 in the Finals, averaged 19.8 points, 3.0 rebounds, and 5.0 assists with 27.8 shooting from behind the arc against Boston.

Kristaps Porzingis Mon Jun 17 3:20pm

Boston Celtics center Kristaps Porzingis (leg) is questionable for Monday's meeting with the Dallas Mavericks. Porzingis returned for Game 1 of the NBA Finals after missing over a month because of a Soleus strain. Unfortunately, he suffered a dislocated Left Posterior Tibialis in Game 2 and didn't suit up in Game 3. Porzingis was available in Friday's loss. However, he never made it on the floor. The Mavs built a big lead early in that contest, so it's unknown if Joe Mazzulla would have put him into the game had the score remained close. But if the veteran is active on Monday evening, he's certainly a risky DFS option, considering he may not get off the bench.

Luka Doncic Mon Jun 17 3:20pm

Dallas Mavericks guard Luka Doncic (chest) is probable for Game 5 of the NBA Finals versus the Boston Celtics. Besides receiving pain-killing injections, it doesn't appear the thoracic contusion is much of an issue for the multi-time All-Star. He's averaged 29.5 points, 8.0 rebounds, 5.8 assists, and 2.5 steals during the series. While Doncic has struggled shooting from deep, he remains the top DFS option for managers on Monday evening.

Jarrett Allen Mon Jun 17 3:20pm

Cleveland Cavaliers center Jarrett Allen is reportedly on the Pelicans' radar. Jonas Valanciunas isn't expected back next season, and Brandon Ingram could be on the move, so adding Allen would undoubtedly lessen the blow caused by the potential departures. The 26-year-old finished last season by averaging a career-high 16.5 points with 10.5 rebounds and 1.1 blocks. He also shot 63.4% from the field. Of course, Cleveland's primary focus this offseason is on extending Donovan Mitchell. However, the Cavs could keep their core intact, considering Evan Mobley wasn't the healthiest during the 2023-24 campaign.

Jonas Valanciunas Mon Jun 17 3:20pm

The New Orleans Pelicans are expected to move on from center Jonas Valanciunas this offseason. The 32-year-old will officially be an unrestricted free agent this summer, with the Pelicans planning to construct the roster to complement the skillset of Zion Williamson better. But Valanciunas, averaging 12.2 points and 8.8 rebounds during the 2023-24 campaign, will draw interest from at least a handful of teams. Although his production was down last season, he's among the most durable big men in the National Basketball Association. With that in mind, if Valanciunas finds a stable role for a new team, he could continue to provide double-double upside for fantasy managers.