“I got Kyrie,” Anthony Edwards proclaimed after winning game seven in Denver. The budding star wanted to send a message to the Mavericks that they would come after Dallas’ best players and be forced to earn everything.

Kyrie Irving heard him loud and clear.

In game one of the Western Conference Finals, Irving and his partner Luka Doncic obliterated their matchups and the Timberwolves’ defense. The former scored 24 points in the first half on 11-14 shooting as he knifed into the paint and danced around the rim. The latter put on the finishing touches of a comeback win as Doncic dropped 15 in the fourth and made two massive defensive stops to seal the victory. When the Mavericks stars play at the top of their game, it can be a helpless feeling for a defense. Each can create off the dribble, get to their spots and make highly contested jumpers feel like shooting practice. Even on a day when Dallas shot 24% from three, the offense generated from those two kept the team afloat before storming back in the fourth, taking game one on the road.

Early on, only Irving seemed to pack his offensive game with him on the flight from Dallas. Powered by their home crowd, the Timberwolves led 16-8 after the first six minutes of play due to their three-point shooting and perimeter defense. Edwards canned the fourth of six triples at the four-minute mark, giving Minnesota their largest lead of the game at nine. However, Irving did not let the game get out of reach, and he scored five of Dallas’ nine points on a 9-0 run to vault his team back into the game, although Chris Finch’s squad took a six-point advantage at the end of the first.

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The second quarter started like the first, as both teams ran cold for the first three minutes. The two sides combined for only four made baskets in the first four minutes as their stars received rest. Once they returned, the offense picked back up before Dallas exploded to end the first half. Trailing 54-47, P.J. Washington and Irving combined for 12 points in two minutes, whittling the deficit to three at the break.

Both teams came out of halftime throwing haymakers. They combined for 28 points in the first six minutes of the third and went stride for stride. Nothing could split the two, as neither team took more than a one-possession lead from 5:34 until the end of the quarter. Minnesota held a slender 83-82 advantage heading into the fourth, but two straight threes to start the quarter gave them a five-point lead with 11 minutes to go.

Looking like the game was getting away, Dallas made their move.

The Mavericks went on a 13-0 run, flipping a five-point deficit into an eight-point lead with seven minutes remaining. Doncic scored or assisted on 11 of the 13 as he took the baton from Irving and carried the rest of the race.

However, basketball is a game of runs. Minnesota battled back, answering Dallas’ dominance with a 10-0 run of their own, leading 102-98 with 3:37 remaining.

But Doncic would not be denied. He scored five of his team’s following eight points as Dallas led 106-102 with less than a minute remaining. Two clutch Irving free throws put the game on ice as the Mavericks spoiled the first Timberwolves WCF game in 20 years.

They say a series does not start until a team wins on the road.

Dallas did not want to hold anyone in suspense.

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