Timberwolves vs. Mavericks: Our analysis and prediction for the Western Conference Final

The NBA Western Conference Final tips off tonight when the Timberwolves host the Mavericks with the winner advancing to the NBA Finals and taking on either the Celtics or Pacers.

After having their second best season in franchise history, Minnesota swept the Suns in the first round and then defeated the reigning champion Nuggets in seven games in the conference semifinals.

For the Mavericks, they took down the top-seeded Thunder in six games in the second round and defeated the Pelicans in the conference quarterfinals.

In the regular season, the Timberwolves won three of the four head-to-head matchups, with the last meeting coming all the way back on Jan. 31, where Minnesota cruised to a dominant 121-87 victory at the Target Center.

Will the T-Wolves advance to their first ever NBA Finals appearance in franchise history, or will the Mavs be back in the championship for the first time since the 2010-11 season?

Here are the odds, our analysis and prediction on who will emerge victorious in this Timberwolves vs. Mavericks matchup:

More:Celtics vs. Pacers: Our analysis and prediction for the Eastern Conference Final

Offense: Edge Timberwolves

While this might not be quite the shootout that we saw in the first game of the Eastern Conference Finals (261 combined points), these are still two of the best offenses this postseason.

Heading into the third round, the two franchises rank in the top seven in points per game, with the Timberwolves coming in at No. 5 (108.4 PPG) and the Mavericks at No. 7 (106.5 PPG) in the playoffs.

The true difference here could come down to free throws and rebounding.

While the T-Wolves come in middle of the pack at 79.6 percent, Dallas is shooting only 69.8 percent from the charity stripe, the worst of all 16 qualified teams in the postseason.

Despite the Mavericks having an advantage in offensive rebounds per game, the difference is defensive rebounding, where Minnesota ranks second with 33.3 DRPG in the playoffs, the Mavs are at 31.7 DRPG, currently ninth among all playoff organizations.

There’s no denying both teams have special talent with the likes of Anthony Edwards, Luka Doncic, Kyrie Irving, N.J. native Karl-Anthony Towns and others sharing the floor.

However, I give the slightest of edges to the Timberwolves here on offense.

Defense: Timberwolves

One area that there’s a significant difference between the two teams is on the defensive end.

From the regular season to the postseason, the Mavericks have clearly stepped up their efforts on defense and played better as a unit than during the regular season.

With that being said, there’s no better defensive team left than the Timberwolves.

Routinely throughout the playoffs, the T-Wolves have held their opponents in check and make it a nightmare for opposing offenses.

Minnesota stifled the reigning champion Nuggets on offense for a majority of the second round. In their four victories, they didn’t allow more than 100 points, and even held Denver to a lowly 70 total points in Game 6 to force a Game 7 back at Ball Arena.

Furthermore, the Timberwolves only allowed an average of 85 points per game in their wins last round.

Truly impressive stuff in a league where totals are higher than ever with the emphasis on offense never greater than it is now.

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Timberwolves vs. Mavericks odds and prediction:

This will no doubt be a fun, entertaining series with two of the best young and skilled players in the league in Edwards and Doncic, who are also not afraid to talk trash before, during and after games.

Going into Game 1 tonight, the Timberwolves are sizable favorites to advance to the NBA Finals.

Here are the series odds for the Western Conference Final:

Timberwolves: -168 (Bet $168 to win $100)

Mavericks: +150 (Bet $100 to win $150)

It’s more of the same for Game 1, with the Minnesota being a four-point favorite on their home court at the Target Center.

If the Mavericks can do what the Suns and Nuggets could not and find ways to solve the T-Wolves defense consistently in this series, they’ll move on.

While I do anticipate Dallas can do it from time to time, I don’t believe they’ll be do it in each and every single game.

The Timberwolves will face another tough test, but ultimately they’ll come out on top and move on to the NBA Finals for the first time in franchise history.

FanDuel Sportsbook has the best odds in New Jersey for Minnesota to advance with a price of -168 (Bet $168 to win $100).

Prediction: Timberwolves in 6

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