The Minnesota Timberwolves are in trouble.

Not only are they staring at the proverbial 3-0 series deficit, but they have been thwarted time and time again by the Dallas Mavericks despite their best efforts. The Wolves have put up big leads and made rallies throughout the postseason, but in the 2024 Western Conference Finals, the outcome has been the same: the Mavs have emerged victorious.

Game 3 of the 2024 Western Conference Finals was the latest example, with Minnesota using an 11-1 run in the third quarter to eventually tie the game at 87 entering the fourth quarter. The Wolves looked like they were setting themselves up for a strong finish and had the crowd at the American Airlines Center in a bit of nervous energy.

But then things went cold for Minnesota in the last five minutes of the game.

Apart from a Naz Reid made free throw and an Anthony Edwards layup with 15.1 seconds left in the fourth quarter, the Wolves could not get a bucket to save their postseason lives. Meanwhile, Luka Doncic, PJ Washington Jr., Kyrie Irving, and Daniel Gafford put the finishing touches on a 116-107 Dallas victory.

As history has shown thus far, any hope of Minnesota advancing to the NBA Finals has all but disappeared.

The chief concern has been offense as the likes of Edwards, Karl-Anthony Towns, and Mike Conley have struggled at various points in the series. Jaden McDaniels has been the most consistent player on the Wolves roster, as he made at least 60 percent of his field goals in five of his last six games. Foul trouble was the only thing that could stop McDaniels as he ended up scoreless in the pivotal fourth quarter.

Defensively, Minnesota has been able to give Doncic and co. fits, but it gets to a point where the foul issues would eventually plague the Wolves for much of the series and they’ve been painful in more ways than one. Forcing Minnesota to sit out some key players from certain parts of the game is one thing, especially since it takes their players out of their rhythm.

However, the free throw disparity was particularly painful in Game 3. In Games 1 and 2, the Wolves went to the line more than the Mavs, but it was the opposite in Game 3, as Dallas held a 31-17 free throw advantage.

Time and time again, Minnesota can be seen complaining to the referees about non-calls and it may be better if they focused more on the game. They may have their merits (for both sides actually), but the Wolves coaching staff can take care of airing out the team’s concerns to the officials, while the organization can come up with official complaints with receipts. This way, it won’t affect the players’ ability to contribute on the court, because when Minnesota focuses on what goes on inside the court, good things happen. Such was the case in the second half of Game 3, where putting their heads down and playing ball cut the deficit and allowed the Wolves to take the lead in the fourth quarter.

NBA teams who have been down 3-0 in a 7-game postseason series are 0-154 all-time and Minnesota will take on the Herculean task of winning four straight games on the way to the NBA Finals. They’re at the point where they have to explore everything and anything, and doing something like starting Nickeil Alexander-Walker and having McDaniels coming off the bench could preserve the latter from foul trouble. After all, Doncic tends to kill the Wolves in the second half so they might as well focus on that.

Can the Minnesota Timberwolves do something thought to be impossible? Technically, yes, but the Wolves have yet to show us that they can close games against the inevitable Dallas Mavericks.

Now is the time to prove us otherwise.