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Dallas Mavericks v Minnesota Timberwolves: Irving says failure a factor in NBA Western Conference Finals win

Kyrie Irving has said the memory of watching last season’s play-offs on television was a motivating factor as the guard scored 30 points to help the Dallas Mavericks beat the Minnesota Timberwolves 108-105 in the opening game of the NBA’s Western Conference Finals.

Luka Doncic top-scored for Dallas, contributing 15 of his 33 points during the final quarter after Irving has scored 24 of his during the first half at Minneapolis’ Target Centre.

“Last summer, when we got exited from play-off contention, I was watching my peers have the chance to win the golden trophy,” Irving told Inside the Game.

“You get motivation from failure, you get inspired. I was watching at home and taking notes on some of the greatest leaders in our league.

“They do little things that don’t show up on the stats sheet for their teams to win. I really just focused on doing the little things and if my points came, they came. I wanted to make sure we felt good as a team after every single game and we were honest with each other.”

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The Timberwolves led 102-98 with four minutes remaining, only for a late surge from the Mavericks to give them the win at the start of the seven-game series.

The result was the first time in six attempts that Dallas have won their first game of the finals under coach Jason Kidd, leading Doncic to observe that they had been “trying to make a point” by changing that form.

Mavericks v Timberwolves: Irving ‘aggressive’

Irving praised Doncic and said that his own approach had been to play boldly with the hope of enhancing his team-mates’ confidence.

“I knew that a few of our guys hadn’t been in the Western Conference Finals, so nerves were getting to them a little bit,” he said.

“For me personally, I know going offensively settles our guys. When they see the ball going in the rim for me, it opens up opportunities for them.

“In this series, in order to give Luka enough breaks and stuff like that, I’ve got to stay aggressive the whole time.

“Every single day, I remind those guys of what it’s like to get to that mountain top, be very close and then fail. I try to encourage my guys as much as I can.”

The teams meet again at the same venue on Saturday.

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