Kyrie Irving’s Closeout Streak Broken as Mavericks Lose WCF Game 4 to Timberwolves

In many respects, history was on the side of the Dallas Mavericks when they prevailed in Game 3 of the Western Conference finals. It is common knowledge that teams leading 3-0 in NBA Playoff Series are unbeaten. In those series, their record is 155-0. And Dallas was also favored by a far less well-known streak.

Mavericks guard Kyrie Irving led the Mavericks in playoff closeout games with a 14-0 record going into the Western Conference finals. In every seven-game series in which his side won its third game, they went on to win the fourth to seal the series.

Up until Tuesday. In Game 4 of the Western Conference finals, the Minnesota Timberwolves defeated the Mavericks 105-100, bringing Irving’s record in closeout games to 14-1. And so concludes what was, in all honesty, one of the more remarkable runs in basketball history.

To put a 14-0 closeout streak in perspective, the Cleveland Cavaliers hold the record for the longest team closeout victory streak in the NBA history, having won just 13 straight closeout games. For ten of those contests, Irving served as their point guard.

He then went on to win his lone closeout game while playing for the Celtics and Nets, and he added two more this season for Dallas to extend the run to fourteen.

However, Irving had trouble in the Western Conference finals’ Game 4. On Tuesday, he was up against outstanding Minnesota defender Jaden McDaniels, who shot only 6 of 18 from the field. However, in closeout circumstances, Irving’s individual stats don’t particularly stick out.

According to Statmuse, he’s currently averaging 22.7 points, 4.5 assists, and 3.7 rebounds in these kinds of contests. In just three of his fifteen closeout games has he scored 30 points or more; he has never gone over 31.

To make matters worse, Dallas’ dominance in shutting out the Timberwolves in the dying minutes of the game has been one of the series’ resounding tales. The Mavericks led this series in fourth-quarter points at +21 going into Game 4. However, an Irving jump shot with 5:57 left gave Dallas the lead, 90-89. To complete the victory, the Timberwolves outscored them 16–10 in the remaining minutes.

Luckily for Dallas, there were other historical factors at play that offset the Irving streak. The 155-0 run is still going strong, and even if you narrow it down to 3-1 advantages, teams leading by that amount have a 273-13 series record, or a about 95.5% win rate.

Even after dropping Game 4, the Mavericks are still in complete control of this series and might advance as early as Thursday to the NBA Finals. With Irving’s closeout streak still standing, they simply cannot pull it off.