3 Fateful reasons why the Minnesota Timberwolves fell short of the NBA Finals

The Minnesota Timberwolves fell short of an NBA championship in this year's NBA playoffs, forcing them to question what it will require for them to take that next step
Dallas Mavericks v Minnesota Timberwolves - Game Five
Dallas Mavericks v Minnesota Timberwolves - Game Five / David Berding/GettyImages
1 of 3

There are three big reasons why the Minnesota Timberwolves fell short in their pursuit of reaching the NBA Finals.

The Minnesota Timberwolves became the most talked about team in the NBA when they beat the defending champion Denver Nuggets in the second round of this year’s playoffs. After this massive victory, many people began to wonder if the Timberwolves actually had what it takes to go the distance and win the NBA Finals.

Unfortunately, the ship capsized when the Timberwolves lost to the Dallas Mavericks in the Western Conference Finals in just five games. Not only did they lose quickly despite being the favorite to win the series, but they looked bad in Game 5 as they lost 124-103 at home.

To be fair, the Timberwolves were very competitive for most of this series, but their weaknesses were magnified and it became clear that they aren’t quite ready to win it all yet. Here are three reasons why the Timberwolves fell short of a title this season and lost to the Dallas Mavericks in just five games.

1. Too much on Anthony Edwards' plate

Anthony Edwards has come a long way in his career, going from a flawed but talented prospect at Georgia to an athletic two-way guard who excels at putting the ball in the basket. Despite being just 22 years old, he is operating as the primary ball handler for one of the best teams in the NBA without another strong ball handler next to him who could take some of the pressure off of him. This is a difficult role to play and it takes a special player to excel in this role. 

Edwards has been fantastic in the playoffs this year, destroying his opponents with off-the-dribble shooting and ferocious drives to the basket. Unfortunately, we did not see this version of him in the Western Conference Finals. Edwards was very productive vs. the Mavericks, averaging around 25 points, nine rebounds, and eight assists per game on 53.9% true shooting.

Unfortunately, his production took a dip from the previous series in this year’s playoffs and he was way less efficient than he usually is. Edwards shot well from three, but he wasn’t very effective scoring inside the arc and he was very passive early in the series. His passivity allowed him to produce at a high level as a playmaker, as he had an assist rate of 31.6% while sporting an assist-to-turnover ratio of 2.3. However, his decision-making was off in the first couple of games and he wasn’t very good as a driver.

I am a huge fan of Anthony Edwards and it’s undeniable that he is a fantastic offensive player with the potential to be elite on this end of the floor. I just think he had too much on his plate this series and I’m not sure he is a good enough decision-maker with the ball in his hands to handle a high-usage role and operate as a heliocentric initiator like Luka Doncic, Trae Young, and Jalen Brunson.

Moving forward, the Timberwolves should consider getting another ball handler who provides some juice as a scorer and passer and can take the load off of Edwards when necessary. The Timberwolves lacked that in this series and I think this is their biggest weakness as a team right now. Perhaps Edwards will develop into an all-world scorer and passer, but he’s not there yet, which is completely understandable since he is just 22 years old.