The Dallas Mavericks head to Utah to face off against the Jazz and play in an arena where they have not won this season. But the series is tied at 1-1 and with Dallas missing Luka Doncic, that seems pretty fantastic, all things considered.
As of this writing, Luka Doncic is listed as questionable in the injury report but with some of the things we’ve heard from Tim MacMahon and other people who cover the Mavericks, I am going to assume he’s not going to play. The current 6.5 point line favoring Utah seems to back up that assertion, though it could be higher. Watch that line closely if you want to know if DraftKings thinks Doncic is going to play.
Let’s get right to it:
Who will win the math war?
I had lunch with an old friend yesterday and he told me he really thought the Mavericks needed to try to find a way to get more rebounds and that the Jazz were killing Dallas with the offensive rebounding in particular. He’s right about that one statistic but I told him the Mavericks have opted to cede rebounding entirely.
Instead, they’re winning the statistical battle elsewhere. Dallas has 10 turnovers in the SERIES. In comparison, the Atlanta Hawks have 37 in their first two games versus Miami. This is a preposterously low number and it’s ridiculous to think about when one knows that on Monday night in Game 2, Spencer Dinwiddie had all three turnovers for Dallas. Additionally, the Mavericks are winning the three point battle, at least in terms of pushing the Jazz off the line. Bojan Bogdanovic might be killing the Mavericks with his scoring inside the arc, but this is something Dallas will live with if they aren’t getting nuked from downtown. These little tactical issues are what help Dallas keep this series much closer than it looked before games were played.
Spencer Dinwiddie needs to find something
What’s being asked of Dinwiddie isn’t entirely fair. He’s being asked to play more minutes in a higher pressure roll several weeks after getting traded to Dallas while still working through his ACL recovery. He’s playing WAY more minutes than he has the previous few weeks and he’s getting tasked as a primary shot taker and play maker in an offense holding onto hope without Doncic.
And he’s been pretty bad, considering how good he’s been in the 2022 season. He’s up to 38 minutes per game over these two playoffs after topping off at 28 in the regular season games. He’s shooting just 36% from the floor after hitting 49% in the regular season. His turnovers have spiked to 3.5 after turning it over just 1.3 times per game in the 23 regular season games in Dallas.
He’s way, way better than this. He’s been either indecisive or pressing too hard on many of his looks, often missing easy baskets. Spencer must find a more comfortable pace and not let Rudy Gobert force him out of his game. I hope to see him take a midrange shot or two, because he’s been pretty good at those in a small sample with Dallas.
Who on the bench plays?
The rotation shrinks and shrinks with each game, to the point that Kidd must have some concerns. Josh Green has to play to soak up some minutes but he’s become the defining symbol of a bench that just isn’t deep enough. The Jazz don’t care if he’s on the court, so him taking and hitting even one three would be extremely valuable. Davis Bertans gets picked on relentlessly by the Jazz, but that’s something we saw coming a mile away. Sterling Brown seems like an idea to try, but he’s glued to the bench. It’s going to get weird at some point. It’s a matter of when.
How to watch
This game will be on NBAtv again and it should be on the local Bally Sports Southwest broadcast, starting at 8:00 cst.
Check out DraftKings Sportsbook, the official sportsbook partner of SB Nation.
Here’s our most recent podcast, a series recap and look forward with Matt Moore of the Action Network, who is very high on Dallas this series. If you can’t see the embed below, click this link or search Mavs Moneyball Podcast.