Starting 5 Daily Newsletter

Starting 5, May 19: Two Game 7s hours away, Mavs advance in thriller

Dallas beat OKC to reach West Finals. Mavs will play winner of Nuggets-Wolves, while Celtics will face the Knicks-Pacers winner.

When you clinch your 2nd trip to the West Finals in three years.


Mavs Move On: Dallas rallied from 17 down to reach the West Finals for the 2nd time in 3 years

Right On Time: P.J. Washington got off to a slow start, but delivered in the clutch for Dallas

A New Chapter: The Knicks-Pacers rivalry gets to add another Game 7 to its lore

Roller Coaster: The Nuggets-Wolves series has seen massive swings, but gets settled today

7th Heaven: Get ready for today’s Game 7s with the best plays and pics from past Game 7s


Buckle up for two Game 7s to close out the Conference Semifinals.

Knicks-Pacers (3:30 ET, ABC): The latest chapter in this storied rivalry gets written today at Madison Square Garden. | How We Got Here

Nuggets-Wolves (8 ET, TNT): The Nuggets look to keep their title defense alive, while the Wolves look to advance on the 20-year anniversary of their last Game 7 win. | How We Got Here

Dallas Clinches At Home: Trailing by 17 in the 3rd quarter, the Mavs refused to let this series go back to OKC for a winner-take-all Game 7 — setting up a wild finish in Dallas.

Luka Doncic posted his 3rd straight triple-double (29 pts, 10 reb, 10 ast) to lead the comeback, as Dallas won the 2nd half 69-52 to come away with a 117-116 win on P.J. Washington’s free throws with 2.5 seconds left.

  • 5th Player Ever: Luka joined Nikola Jokic (4 straight), Wilt Chamberlain (4), Draymond Green (3) and Russell Westbrook (3) as the only players with three consecutive Playoff triple-doubles

Dallas advances to its 2nd West Finals in three years with Luka as the only starter remaining from the 2022 squad. His new supporting cast delivered in the series-clincher over the West’s No. 1 seed.

  • Kyrie Irving (22 pts, 4 3s) is now 14-0 in series-clinching games; he’s the only player in NBA history undefeated in closeout games with at least 10 games played
  • Derrick Jones Jr. (22 pts, 4 3s) posted his 3rd straight playoff career-high in scoring with 16 of his points coming in the 2nd half
  • Dereck Lively II (12 pts, Playoff career-high 15 reb) was a plus-26 in 30 minutes off the bench, becoming the 1st rookie to post a double-double in a clinching game since 2018
  • P.J. Washington (9 pts, 5 reb, 2 3s) overcame a slow start to deliver in the clutch. More on his night in Section 2

SGA’s Playoff-Best Not Enough: Shai Gilgeous-Alexander led OKC with a playoff career-high 36 points with eight assists in 43 minutes.

  • Jalen Williams (22 pts, 9 reb, 8 ast) and Chet Holmgren (21 pts) both put up their highest-scoring games of the series, with Chet’s alley-oop dunk giving OKC the lead with 20 seconds left

Historically Close Series: While the Mavs won the series four games to two, the composite score over six games was dead-even at 636-636.

  • This is the 6th series over the past 20 years to finish with a total point differential of one point or less – and the 2nd occurrence this postseason (Knicks-Sixers, 1st Round)

What’s Next: The Mavs await the winner of today’s Game 7 between the Nuggets and Wolves to see who they will face in the West Finals, which tip off Wednesday with the Mavs on the road.


P.J. Washington entered Game 6 as Dallas’ 2nd-leading scorer in the series (19.4 ppg), but got off to a slow start in the series-clincher.

  • How Slow? Through 3½ quarters, he was scoreless (0-3 FG, 0-2 3P) with three rebounds, two assists and three fouls

Clutch time was a much different story. He scored all nine of his points in the final 5:19 of the game, including two clutch 3s and the game-clinching free throws.

  • For The Tie: Washington’s first bucket of the game – a left corner 3 with 4:11 to play – tied the game to complete Dallas’ comeback from 17 points down
  • For The Lead: His only other bucket of the game – a right wing 3 with 2:01 left – put the Mavs up by 3
  • For The Win: After Holmgren’s alley-oop put OKC up one with 20 seconds left, Luka drove deep into the paint and got the ball to P.J. in the corner as the defense collapsed on him. A pump fake got SGA to bite and P.J. drew a foul with 2.5 seconds left
  • Clutch Free Throws: Washington entered Game 6 shooting just 2-for-5 from the free throw line for the series. But he calmly hit the 1st FT to tie the game and the 2nd to give the Mavs the lead

  • He intentionally missed the 3rd to force OKC to rebound and heave a shot from Âľ court as the Thunder were out of timeouts

Washington, who joined the Mavericks at the trade deadline along with Daniel Gafford to bolster the Dallas frontline, provided the ultimate definition of “It’s not how you start, it’s how you finish.”

  • 🗣️ Mavs Coach Jason Kidd: “It wasn’t Luka or Kai making the game-winner. It was the trust of Luka and the ball touches the paint, they collapse, he trusted P.J. We find a way to win.”


Reggie Miller. Patrick Ewing. Rik Smits. John Starks.

Jalen Brunson. Tyrese Haliburton. Josh Hart. Myles Turner.

The names may be different in 2024 than they were in 1994 and 1995. But the Knicks-Pacers rivalry is burning as bright as ever as the teams meet in their 3rd Game 7 today in NYC (3:30 ET, ABC).

  • Bridging the Past and Present: Many legends of this rivalry have been in attendance at the Garden throughout the series

In a rivalry already filled with iconic moments – Reggie’s eight points in nine seconds, Ewing’s tip-in dunk to reach the Finals, Reggie’s 25-point 4th quarter – who will deliver the next performance that will be discussed decades later?

We’ve already had a few candidates earlier in the series:

  • Brunson’s return for the 2nd half drew “MVP” chants as he warmed up before scoring 24 of his 29 points to put NY up 2-0
  • Andrew Nembhard with the longest bucket of his career – a 31-foot 3-pointer with 16 seconds left in Game 3 – to answer Brunson’s 3, put the Pacers up for good, and elicit a rare Mike Breen “Bang!” on back-to-back possessions

Home Is Where The Hart Is? The home team has won each of the first six games of this series. For the playoffs, the Knicks are 5-1 at MSG, while the Pacers are just 1-5 on the road.

  • Home Is Where The Hart Is? The home team has won each of the first six games of this series. For the playoffs, the Knicks are 5-1 at MSG, while the Pacers are just 1-5 on the road.
  • OG Anunoby, who has missed the past four games after leaving Game 2 late with a hamstring injury, is also listed as questionable

One team is 48 minutes away (or maybe more with overtime) from a trip to the Eastern Conference Finals and a matchup with Boston.

  • 🗣️ Knicks Coach Tom Thibodeau: “You’re going to get tested physically, mentally, emotionally and you’ve got to be able to get through that. And so whatever it is that we’re facing, we can overcome. Just keep battling.”
  • 🗣️ Indy’s Pascal Siakam: “It’s going to take everything. A lot of crazy stuff is going to happen.”


The winding unique path to tonight’s Game 7 (8 ET, TNT) began a year ago when the No. 1 Nuggets eliminated the No. 8 Timberwolves in the first round in five games.

Starting with that series, these teams have met 15 times over the past 13 months heading into tonight’s series finale. They are separated by a total of six points.

Minnesota 1,588; Denver 1,582.

The regular season saw Denver, Minnesota and OKC in a battle royal for the top seed in the West. The Thunder edged out the Nuggets via tiebreaker and the Nuggets finished one game up on the Wolves – giving Denver home-court advantage tonight.

Both teams have proven they can win on the other’s court in this series.

  • Games 1 & 2: Minnesota went into Denver and locked the Nuggets down, showcasing the league’s top-ranked defense as they held Denver to 89.5 ppg to become just the 3rd defending champ to drop the first two games at home
  • Games 3-5: The champs may have been staggered, but they were far from done
  • A pair of Jokic masterpieces (24 pts, 14 reb, 9 ast, 3 stl, 3 blk in Game 3; 40 pts, 13 ast, 0 tov in Game 5) and a brilliant Aaron Gordon game (27 pts, 7 reb, 6 ast, 11-12 FG in Game 4) put the Nuggets back in the driver’s seat
  • Game 6: The Wolves responded to their first three-game losing streak of the season with the second-largest Game 6 win (+45) in NBA Playoff history – and the largest win when facing elimination in a best-of-seven series

It sets up Minnesota’s first Game 7 in exactly 20 years. On May 19, 2004, Kevin Garnett led the Wolves to an 83-80 win over the Kings to advance to Minnesota’s first (and, so far, only) West Finals.

  • 2004 to 2024 Connections: The 2004 Wolves were led by the late Flip Saunders, whose son Ryan is an assistant with Denver in 2024
  • Elston Turner was an assistant coach with the Kings in 2004 and is now an assistant for the Wolves, while Gregg Farnam was the Wolves trainer in 2004 and remains in 2024

Can Anthony Edwards, Karl-Anthony Towns and the Wolves celebrate that 20-year anniversary with the franchise’s second Game 7 win ever … and become the 6th team since 2007 to eliminate the champs a year after losing a series to them?

Or will Jokic, Jamal Murray and the Nuggets avenge their lopsided Game 6 loss and keep their title defense alive?


It’s a special Sunday.

Game 7s don’t just decide series — they define legacies.

Moments become memories, finishes evolve into fairy tales, and triumphs turn timeless.

Get Ready: Feeling the Game 7 vibes? Same. Looking for a little extra hype this morning? Our video team’s got ya, with a few choice Game 7 cuts to start the day.

🔥 Fire Photos From Recent Game 7s