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Minnesota Timberwolves vs. Dallas Mavericks: Covers' Best Bets for Tuesday's Game 4

Despite being down 0-3, the Minnesota Timberwolves have had a chance to win every game in the Western Conference Finals against the Dallas Mavericks.

As they try to be the first team to dig themselves out of a to-this-point-impossible hole, their glimmer of hope is that Dereck Lively is going to miss at least Game 4 due to the neck sprain he suffered in Sunday's Game 3.

As ESPN’s Brian Windhorst says, “winning a championship means you never have to say you’re sorry.” Neither will the Timberwolves apologize for pressing their one advantage as they fight to keep their season alive.

It feels almost impossible that the absence of a rookie could have so much of an impact on a game this deep in the playoffs, but that just speaks to how special Lively has been. In Lively’s absence, the matchups and tactical calculus for both teams change, and those shifts form the basis for my three favorite prop bets for Game 4 below.

Minnesota Timberwolves vs. Dallas Mavericks Game 4 best bets

Anthony Edwards Over 7.5 first quarter points (-105)

Anthony Edwards has gone Under on his points prop in all three games to open the series.

But it hasn’t been an even distribution. In fact, Edwards has been getting off to strong starts by averaging nine points in the first quarter, which is the highest scoring average in the opening frame for any player in either the East or West Finals.

Edwards’ problem has been maintaining that early juice late in the game after getting worn down chasing Kyrie Irving around on defense.

His job gets much easier with Daniel Gafford starting in Lively’s place. Gafford is simply nowhere near as mobile nor as intimidating a rim protector, and Ant’s chance of getting off to another hot start by attacking the rim is greater than ever in Game 4.

Luka Doncic Under 9.5 assists (-160)

The story of the series is that the Timberwolves have not been able to solve the Luka Doncic puzzle. He has blown away every coverage they have thrown at him and dominated all of his one-on-one scoring matchups.

The Timberwolves really don’t want to put two on the ball. It goes against their base defensive principles and forces their players to defend in rotation where Ant and Karl-Anthony Towns do not excel.

But at this point they have little choice. If they don’t take the ball out of Luka’s hands the series will end on Tuesday night. Forcing any other Maverick to shoot or make a decision is better than allowing Doncic to go off again.

That increased pressure on the ball saw Luka’s assists drop off substantially in Game 3, where he tied a playoff low with just five dimes. Luckily for the Wolves, the tactic of blitzing Luka is much more effective with Lively sidelined.

He may be a rookie, but Lively is a wizard in the short roll. The Mavericks' other options in the are not nearly as inspiring. Gafford has struggled with when to shoot and when to pass, PJ Washington is not a high-level decision maker on the move, and it’s hard to expect much from Maxi Kleber — who is slated to make his return tonight —after missing more than three weeks.

As such, I’m expecting even more blitzing from the Wolves defense who will feel even more confident putting two on the ball when the second link in the chain is a substantially worse playmaker and decision maker than Lively. That should see Luka notch fewer assists again on Tuesday.

Karl-Anthony Towns Over 19.5 points (-125)

This series has been nothing short of disastrous for Towns. He is currently in the middle of one of the least efficient. high-volume playoff series of all time.

After a regular season where he made the All-Star team on the back of 21.8 points per game on 62.3% true shooting, KAT is at 15 points on 37.4% against the Mavericks. That is easily the worst mark I can ever recall seeing for a player of his caliber over a three-game stretch.

And so much of it is due to the presence of Lively. His rotations have been so crisp, and he matches KAT’s athleticism, pop, and length to a degree that has Towns clearly rattled. He’s rushing his shots at the rim, and his dismal performance there has now infected his 3-point shot.

The best stretch that KAT had during the series at any point was immediately after Lively had to leave the game due to his neck sprain. Suddenly the backline rotations weren’t as sharp, the help defense at the rim wasn't as active, and Towns got to the rim three different times in the span of less than two minutes of game time.

I think when Towns can see the ball go in more consistently on his drives, confidence in his 3-point shot will come back around.

Odds displayed within this article were correct at the time of writing and are subject to change.

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