The Wolves’ Point of View: Hoping Dort’s plan helps them defend Luka better

MINNEAPOLIS – The ghost of Lu Dort could still haunt Luka Dončić.

The Mavericks won the stocky, sticky defender from Oklahoma City in the second round of the playoffs, but it was by no means a breeze. This took a physical toll on Dončić.

And he did something else: He provided a blueprint for the Minnesota Timberwolves in the Western Conference semifinal against the Mavericks that begins at 7:30 p.m. Wednesday.

“Yeah, sure,” T-Wolves guard Anthony Edwards said after their shootout Wednesday morning. “I thought he (Dort) should have been on one of the (all) defensive teams, for sure.”

So what specifically did the Wolves learn from Dort’s play about making life difficult for Luka?

“He kept playing, continuing on all screens,” Edwards said. “They do a lot of pick and rolls and he kept chasing every time. He fought on every screen, contesting every shot. I just played hard all the time.

That goes a long way, even with the heightened stakes at the heart of the playoffs, when everyone’s aggression increases. Of course, it helps to be built like a tank, which Dort is.

Karl-Anthony Towns, who has already spent time guarding Phoenix’s Kevin Durant and Denver’s Nikola Jokic in these playoffs, knows he will have times where he is responsible for Dončić.

He said it’s important to push the limits physically. But it’s not just with Luka.

“You have to be physical with everyone,” Towns said. “These guys are great offensive players and they are very talented. So we have to not only push the physical, but also execute at a high level and be smart in our aggression.

Edwards agreed that while it’s important to make life difficult for Dončić and Irving, it’s not the only thing that can go haywire against the Mavericks, as the Thunder and Los Angeles Clippers found out in the two first rounds.

“The attention to detail to the other guys is more important,” Edwards said. “Luka and Kyrie will be Luka and Kyrie no matter how many coverages you participate in and how many times you double team them. They’re going to take their shots. They will make them. They will miss them. You have to live with it.

“But it’s the other guys. Attention to detail is extremely important because they love to grab and pull or grab and drive one way. They don’t know how to use the other hand. Some of them don’t like pressure. They depend on Luka and Kyrie to create everything. So attention to detail is important with the other three guys.

Edwards and Jaden McDaniels are the Wolves’ equivalent of Derrick Jones Jr. and PJ Washington for the Mavericks. They guard the opponent’s best offensive players every night.

Both expect to see a lot of Irving and Doncic.

“It’s going to be a fun show, that’s for sure,” Towns said. “They have incredible, incredible players. Their team is really good and they have stepped up since the All-Star break and especially after the trade deadline.

And the Wolves are well aware that they won three of four regular season games against the Mavericks, but all of them were before Washington and Daniel Gafford arrived in Dallas.

Edwards said: “They’re good, man. They have two excellent offensive players. We have two excellent defensive players.

“So everything we did in the past is in the past. If it didn’t work, it didn’t work. We’re trying to focus on everything we do tonight and see if it works, which is going out, playing hard and defending to the best of my and Jaden’s abilities.

X: @ESefko

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