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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
Kristaps Porzingis Wed Jun 12 2:30pm

The Boston Celtics announced that forward/center Kristaps Porzingis (leg) is listed as day-to-day for the rest of the NBA Finals after suffering a rare injury in the third quarter of Game 2 on Sunday versus Dallas. According to Marc D'Amico of the Celtics' official site, the injury is a torn medial retinaculum that allowed dislocation of the posterior tibialis tendon in his left leg. The current setback for Porzingis is unrelated to his previous right-calf injury. He has suited up for just six games this postseason and has averaged 24.5 minutes, 13.5 points, 5.0 rebounds, 1.3 assists and 1.8 blocks per contest.

Kristaps Porzingis Wed Jun 12 2:30pm

Boston Celtics center Kristaps Porzingis (leg) is questionable for Game 3 of the NBA Finals versus Dallas. The team declared him "day-to-day." However, many believe he won't return for the remainder of the postseason because of the left posterior Tibialis discloation he sustained during Game 2 on Sunday night. Of course, Porzingis will likely do all he can to be out there on Wednesday. But if he can't suit up, Al Horford, who will likely continue to start regardless of Porzingis' availability, should see even more minutes, automatically increasing his DFS value.

Luka Doncic Wed Jun 12 2:30pm

Dallas Mavericks guard Luka Doncic (back) is probable for Game 3 of the NBA Finals versus Boston. In addition to the thoracic contusion, Doncic has appeared on the injury report thoughout the postseason because of knee and ankle soreness. However, no matter what is ailing him, it's unlikely he'll miss time for the rest of the playoffs, assuming he doesn't suffer a more severe injury. The 25-year-old has played well during the series against the Celtics, averaging 31.0 points, 10.5 rebounds, 6.0 assists, and 3.0 steals, making him worthy of being included in any DFS lineup on Wednesday night.

Dennis Schroder Wed Jun 12 2:30pm

Brooklyn Nets guard Dennis Schroder hopes to remain with the team in 2024-25 and beyond. "Brooklyn is a really cool, great organization, quite family-oriented," Said Schroder during an interview. "I'd definitely like to stick around for the long haul." Understandably, the 30-year-old, who has one year left on his current deal, would want to stay in Brooklyn, considering he averaged 14.6 points, 6.0 assists, and 3.5 rebounds in 29 games with the Nets during the 2023-24 campaign. He also shot a career-high 41.2% from behind the arc. With that said, Schroder's best days are likely behind him. But he could continue to hold a stable role with the Nets, which isn't bad for his fantasy potential.

Jimmy Butler Wed Jun 12 2:30pm

Miami Heat forward Jimmy Butler is reportedly eager to stay with the team. "My sense is Jimmy Butler does not want to be anywhere but Miami," said NBA insider Shams Charania on the Pat McAfee Show on Tuesday. "Sense is that he loves it in Miami. But again, he is extension-eligible this year. There are multiple teams out there that would give him an extension." There have been reports of Butler's former team, the Philadelphia 76ers, being ready to offer him a maximum extension to lure him back to the City of Brotherly Love. A move elsewhere could have a negative impact on Butler's fantasy value because he might be forced to play a lesser role next to another superstar or two.

Darius Garland Wed Jun 12 2:30pm

According to ESPN's Brian Windhorst, the trade market for Cleveland Cavaliers point guard Darius Garland has cooled off. "There are now teams that are sort of backing off, saying well, maybe Garland is not gonna be available," Windhorst said during an appearance on ESPN Cleveland's The Really Big Show. The statement comes after Cavaliers president Koby Altman recently suggested that the team isn't desperate to break up the duo of Garland and Donovan Mitchell. It has been reported that Garland will seek a trade if the Cavaliers sign Mitchell to an extension this offseason.

Kyle Lowry Wed Jun 12 2:30pm

Philadelphia 76ers point guard Kyle Lowry was tracked by the New York Knicks before his move to the City of Brotherly Love. Lowry was traded by the Miami Heat to the Charlotte Hornets on Jan. 23, and his contract was bought out two weeks later without the veteran making a single appearance for the team. League sources have told The Athletic's Fred Katz that Lowry was on the Knicks' "list" following the buyout before he signed a deal until the end of the season with his hometown team. The 38-year-old might be on the move again this offseason as a free agent and could be back on New York's radar after some strong performances against the Knicks in this year's playoffs.

Luka Doncic Wed Jun 12 2:30pm

Dallas Mavericks point guard Luka Doncic is playing through multiple ailments in the 2024 NBA Playoffs and reportedly received a pain-killing injection to get through Game 2 of the Finals against Boston. The injection was made so he could cope with his latest injury, a thoracic contusion. Doncic has also battled through ankle and knee issues in the postseason. Sources have told ESPN's Tim MacMahon that Doncic will receive another pain-killing injection before Wednesday's Game 3. The Mavericks star will enter the contest on the back of three consecutive 30-point performances.

LeBron James Wed Jun 12 2:30pm

Los Angeles Lakers forward LeBron James has reportedly not been involved in the team's search for a new head coach. It has been suggested that he has a major influence on the franchise's decisions. However, according to NBA insider Shams Charania, James is "staying clear" of the coaching search. The Lakers appeared to have found their man last week, but UConn's head coach, Dan Hurley, rejected the job. A recent report for Charania noted that the team is "zeroing" in on James' podcast partner and player-turned-analyst JJ Redick, while James Borrego, the current associate head coach of the New Orleans Pelicans, also remains an option.

Derrick White Tue Jun 11 2:20pm

According to NBA insider Marc Stein, Boston Celtics guard Derrick White will look for a contract extension from the team this offseason. The 29-year-old arguably had the best season of his career in 2023-24, averaging 15.2 points, 5.2 assists, 4.2 rebounds, 1.2 blocks, and 1.0 steals. He also shot 39.6% from deep. White is currently playing on a four-year, $70 million contract he signed while still with the San Antonio Spurs. But the Celtics will likely do all they can to stop him from reaching free agency next offseason, so fantasy managers shouldn't be surprised to see him ink a new deal with Boston over the summer.

Isaiah Hartenstein Tue Jun 11 2:20pm

New York Knicks center Isaiah Hartenstein has been strongly linked with the Oklahoma City Thunder. Sources have told Stefan Pondy of The New York Post that the Thunder are the "top threat" to pry Hartenstein away from New York. The 26-year-old is heading toward unrestricted free agency and is expected to get a big contract. A recent report suggested that teams are willing to offer as much as $80-100 million for his services. Meanwhile, the Knicks are limited to a maximum offer of four years, $72.5 million. Hartenstein would provide a big boost to the Thunder's rebounding ability after the team posted the fourth-lowest rebounding rate in the league this season.

Kevon Looney Tue Jun 11 2:20pm

Golden State Warriors center Kevon Looney could become a free agent this summer. "I think the likeliest situation is that he's cut, and he makes $3 million from them, and he's off looking for another spot," said Tim Kawakami of The Athletic on a recent episode of the Warriors Plus Minus podcast. Looney has a $8 million deal in place for next season, but only $3 million of it is guaranteed. The salary will be fully guaranteed on June 24. Looney had a career year in 2022-23, but the emergence of Trayce Jackson-Davis has made him surplus to requirements in San Francisco. However, as an experienced veteran who is an outstanding rebounder, Looney should have no problems finding a new team.

Paul George Tue Jun 11 2:20pm

According to NBA insider Marc Stein, the Orlando Magic are seen as a "natural suitor" for Paul George and Klay Thompson. Both players could hit the open market this summer and would fit in well with the Magic. Thompson could prove the team much-needed three-point shooting, while George's addition would boost Orlando at both ends. After having his worst campaign in nine years, a change of surroundings should improve Thompson's fantasy stock. George's numbers might get better as well with bigger usage on a team that doesn't have as many star names as the Los Angeles Clippers.

Nikola Jovic Tue Jun 11 2:20pm

Miami Heat forward Nikola Jovic is hoping to take another step forward in 2024-25. "There's not one thing that I can focus on, I have to focus on so many of them, like from shooting to dribbling, passing, basically everything," Jovic told Cyro Asseo de Choch of HoopsHype, "I feel like there's so much room and space where I can improve, and I feel like I'll show it at least a little more next season." Jovic, who turned 20 at the weekend, averaged 7.7 points, 4.2 rebounds, and 2.0 assists in 19.5 minutes this season. He finished the campaign as a starter and could be someone to keep an eye on next season in fantasy basketball.

Yuta Watanabe Tue Jun 11 2:20pm

Memphis Grizzlies forward Yuta Watanabe appears to be on his way out of the NBA. According to Donatas Urbonas of BasketNews, the Japanese forward will move back to his homeland and is close to joining the Chiba Jets. Watanabe started the 2023-24 campaign with the Phoenix Suns before getting traded to Memphis in February. He made 34 appearances this season, averaging 3.4 points and 1.6 rebounds in 13.6 minutes. Watanabe has career averages of 4.2 points and 2.3 rebounds in 213 games. The 29-year-old has struggled to make an impact in the Association and will decline a $2.6 million player option to move back to Japan.

Luka Doncic Mon Jun 10 2:10pm

Dallas Mavericks guard Luka Doncic (ankle, knee, chest) was downgraded to questionable ahead of Game 2 of the NBA Finals against Boston. He has been battling knee and ankle soreness throughout the postseason and was deemed probable to play as of Saturday night. However, the 25-year-old is now dealing with a thoracic contusion. With that in mind, Doncic will likely do everything he can to get on the floor on Sunday night. But considering he's the costliest DFS option available for fantasy managers, the ailments could make it challenging for him to exceed his value enough to justify his presence in any lineup. On a positive note, Doncic's condition could open the door for more involvement from Kyrie Irving, who struggled in Game 1.

Luka Doncic Mon Jun 10 2:10pm

Dallas Mavericks guard Luka Doncic (chest, knee, ankle) will play on Sunday night against the Celtics. Doncic has been banged up all postseason. He was probable on Saturday night because of lingering knee and ankle soreness. However, there was concern about his availability when he was downgraded to questionable on Sunday because of a thoracic contusion. Of course, there was little chance Doncic would miss such an important game. But with his list of ailments growing, his DFS impact may be less than usual.

Luka Doncic Mon Jun 10 2:10pm

Dallas Mavericks guard Luka Doncic produced a triple-double in Game 2 of the NBA Finals against Boston. But it wasn't enough, with the Celtics securing their second win of the series. Doncic entered this contest carrying a questionable designation because of a thoracic contusion along with knee and ankle soreness. While it's apparent he's still burdened by the ailments, he produced 32 points, 11 rebounds, 11 assists, and four steals. The 25-year-old shot the ball better on Sunday than in Game 2. However, he also committed eight turnovers. With the Mavs down two games, both teams will head to Dallas for Game 3 on Wednesday. DFS managers should expect to see Doncic on the injury report, although he'll likely be out there.

Jayson Tatum Mon Jun 10 2:10pm

Boston Celtics forward Jayson Tatum just missed a triple-double in Sunday's win over the Mavericks, ending the night with 18 points, 12 assists, and nine rebounds. While the Celtics took the win to put the team up two games in the series, Tatum continues to struggle shooting the ball, going 6-for-22 from the field and 1-for-7 from deep. Fortunately, he was still a welcome addition to DFS lineups, although his shooting woes must be addressed ahead of Game 3 in Dallas on Wednesday night.

Kyrie Irving Mon Jun 10 2:10pm

Dallas Mavericks guard Kyrie Irving had 18 points in Game 2 of the NBA Finals against Boston on Sunday night. He added six assists and two boards. Irving shot 6-for-19 from the field in Game 1. However, he improved on Sunday, ending the evening by going 7-for-18 from the field. Unfortunately, he has missed all eight tries from deep in the series' first two games. But the 32-year-old and the rest of the Dallas offense have a chance to get it together in Game 3 on Wednesday evening.