With Mavericks’ elimination of Timberwolves, your NBA Finals are officially set.

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If you want your team to beat Luka Dončić, you have to stop screaming at him from courtside seats. You won’t beat him in trash talk or the game.

Mavs Cooked ‘Em

Dallas left no doubt about Minnesota’s fate

We didn’t have much time to wonder whether the Timberwolves would become the 12th team in NBA history to force a Game 6 after being down 3-0 in a series. Luka Dončić decided to make quick work of Minnesota to punch the Mavericks’ ticket into the NBA Finals for the first time since 2011. The Mavericks led by as many as 36 points in Game 5 – and it was a 29-point game at halftime – before winning 124-103 to close the series.

Dončić (who won Western Conference finals MVP) scored 20 of his 36 points in the first quarter to outscore the Wolves (19) by himself. It looked like he was headed toward a historic night before Kyrie Irving took over in the middle of the game. Irving scored 25 of his 36 in the second and third quarter. The Wolves never really challenged Dallas after it was tied at 18 with 5:43 left in the opening period. Minnesota received a brutal finish to the gentleman’s sweep. It got to the point that some wondered on the internet if it would have been better to be swept on the road than get obliterated at home like this.

Let me tell you: That’s one of the dumbest ideas we can possibly have. Getting swept is always worse. There’s no sound argument to the contrary. As bad as the Wolves’ Game 5 home loss was, one playoff win is always better than no wins in a series. And the Wolves can channel this disappointing feeling into improvement for next season. As for the Mavs, their impressive march through the Clippers, Thunder and Wolves now sets them up for this championship showdown with the Celtics.

Either Dončić will win his first NBA title, or Jayson Tatum, Jaylen Brown and Kristaps Porziņģis will get theirs. Porziņģis (assuming he returns from this calf injury) returns to face a Dallas team that decided it was better off without him, so he was jettisoned to the Wizards. Irving returns to Boston, where he briefly played before the bottom fell out of that experiment.

Don’t forget to set your 📅: Game 1 of the NBA Finals is at 8:30 p.m. ET Thursday, June 6 on ABC. We have a week to preview everything we could ever want to know.

The Latest From Shams

No deal yet between Kings, Brown

The Sacramento Kings have made a competitive offer to head coach Mike Brown on a contract extension, league sources say, but so far, there has been no agreement between the two sides.

I’m told the offer is for three years and $21 million through 2026-27 and could be worth up to $27 million with bonuses. Brown, a two-time NBA Coach of the Year who’s led the Kings to the postseason in back-to-back years, has one guaranteed year remaining on his deal, with a mutual option the following year, and is believed to be seeking around $10 million annually. Before the Kings earned the No. 3 seed in the West in 2023, they hadn’t made the playoffs since 2006.

Tragically, Drew Gordon has died in a car accident. He was 33 years old. Gordon, the older brother of Nuggets forward Aaron Gordon, played nine games for the 76ers in 2014-15 and played professionally in the U.S. and abroad after finishing his college career at New Mexico and UCLA.

Poll Results!

You voted, so who’s the best player in the world?

Yesterday, with Dončić on the brink of making his first NBA Finals, we asked you, the reader, to vote in a poll to pick the best player in the world. We threw out 12 voting options and allowed you to opt for a write-in “other” option. Would you be swayed by Dončić’s Finals push and the second-round exit by Nikola Jokić? Is Giannis Antetokounmpo your guy? Steph Curry, maybe? LeBron James? Could Ricky Davis get a write-in vote? The possibilities were literally endless. These were the most fascinating results of the poll:

  • Jokić is still No. 1: The reigning MVP took home 42.1 percent of the vote to win the poll.
  • Dončić finished second: His 28.5 percent share was by far the next biggest piece of the pie.
  • The next three: Anthony Edwards (6.2 percent), Jayson Tatum (4.8) and Antetokounmpo (2.9).
  • The Wemby effect: Victor Wembanyama (1.9 percent) finished ninth behind Joel Embiid (2.8), LeBron (2.5) and Shai Gilgeous-Alexander (2.3).

Now, let’s dive into some of the write-in responses. These were the most intriguing or funniest ones we got:

  • Four people wrote in Steph Curry as an “other” option despite him being on the ballot.
  • Actually, let me clarify: Three people wrote in “Stephm,” and one wrote in “Steph Currt.”
  • Three people voted for Michael Jordan. He’s 61 years old, but I see the vision.
  • “J Brown & J Tatum are TEAM players, not like ALL NBA WHINNER Luka”
  • “What are we doing here guys? Are we really so naïve as to think that all these players are better than Steph Curry? Sorry, but I have to defend my guy. With that said, Jokić.”
  • Sam Hauser and Payton Pritchard got votes. Thank you for voting, Jay King of The Athletic.
  • Luigi Datome and Michael Kidd-Gilchrist also got votes. Kidd-Gilchrist hasn’t played an NBA minute since 2020. Datome last did so in 2015.
  • No Ricky Davis votes were cast in this poll.

And finally: Yes, in keeping tradition with every poll the Bounce has thrown your way, someone voted for Thanasis Antetkounmpo. We can’t run one f****** poll around here without Thanasis getting a write-in vote. Thank you to the Antetokounmpos – and you, the readers 🫵🫵🫵 – for participating.

Wolves Outlook

Should they run it back?

While Game 5 and the conference finals overall didn’t go the Wolves’ way, Minnesota still had arguably its best season in franchise history. The Wolves won 56 games (second-most ever), had the best defense in the league, saw the emergence of their 22-year old superstar on the biggest stage and eliminated the defending champs. So, what’s next for this Wolves franchise as it enters a pivotal summer in the traffic-jammed Western Conference? Here are my three questions for their offseason.

1. Who is going to be the team owner? We still don’t know! In the near future, Marc Lore and Alex Rodriguez will go through arbitration against Glen Taylor to see if the agreement for Lore and Rodriguez to purchase the team holds up. It’s crazy we don’t know who the owner of the Wolves will be after an alleged purchase of said team. Taylor has been at the helm of one of the worst franchise runs in sports, but the Wolves have recently become very good under his partial control. Lore and A-Rod have the potential to provide a fresh, much-needed approach. With that being said, there are questions about the roster’s financial future with them in charge.

2. Will we see Karl-Anthony Towns moved? Such an idea started gaining a lot of social media traction at various points this season and once again when KAT struggled at moments in the playoffs. People might forget the 28-year-old was named as an All-Star reserve by the coaches this very season. He’s an elite shooter and a very good scorer. He’s also settled in nicely with his No. 2 role behind Anthony Edwards. But this roster is expensive and doesn’t have a lot of flexibility moving forward. It seems odd for a team that was so mediocre offensively to trade an offensive weapon like Towns, but something will have to give at some point. KAT still has $221 million over the next four seasons coming. Maybe the Wolves will opt for better depth elsewhere and invest in Naz Reid (25 years old) as the team’s other big? At some point? I doubt Towns goes anywhere this summer, but a decision will most likely happen in the next year or two.

3. Can they add any offense to the roster? Minnesota finished 17th in offensive rating this season, and we saw its offense completely sputter against Dallas. Monte Morris and Kyle Anderson will be free agents this summer. Everybody else is under contract. The Wolves are projected to be a dreaded second-apron luxury tax payer, which crunches their ability to make significant roster improvements. They were third in 3-point shooting in the regular season but had plenty of shooting inconsistencies in the playoffs. They need someone to help Edwards with playmaking duties to break down the defense from the perimeter. How do the Wolves add anything? That remains to be seen. Minnesota will probably run this team back and see where it stands after next season, but the team needs to make scoring much easier in big moments.

Bounce Passes

Should the Lakers chase another star or go for building depth?

Should we focus on age when it comes to draft prospects?

Two different Dallas sports teams are enjoying deep playoff runs, and neither is the Cowboys.

(Top photo: Stephen Maturen  / Getty Images )

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