The Dallas Mavericks crushed the Utah Jazz 102-77 Monday night in Dallas. The 25 point margin doesn’t do justice to how badly Dallas defeated Utah. The Game 5 win puts the Mavericks up in the series 3-2. Dallas can close the the series out Thursday in Utah.
The Mavericks were aggressive early, and their defense stifled the Jazz for much of the first half. Despite Dallas playing small, they dominated the interior in the first half. They lived at the rim, going 10-of-12 in the restricted area. They also outscored the Jazz 30-22 on second chance point. This helped them weather early turnover issues and go into the half 52-36. That was the lowest scoring half of the season for the Jazz, and the fewest points allowed by the Mavericks in the first half of a playoff game since 2011, against the Oklahoma City Thunder.
Dallas blew the game open wide in the third quarter. Luka Doncic scored 19 points as he dissected the Jazz, and the Mavericks never looked back. They led the game wire to wire, and got their starters some much needed rest.
Doncic led all scorers with 33 points and 13 rebounds. Jalen Brunson added 24 points. Jordan Clarkson led the Jazz with 20 points off the bench.
Here are three things from the game:
The Jazz were able to shoot 3-pointers, but couldn’t make them
One of the goals of the Mavericks this series was limiting the number of 3-pointers the Jazz attempted. They instead wanted to chase Utah off the 3-point line and into midrange floaters or tough shots at the rim. And through four games it worked. The Jazz were second in the league in shots from deep during the regular season, hoisting 40 per game. But the Mavericks shut that off through four games, allowing the Jazz to only take 28 3-pointers per game.
In Game 5, the Jazz were able to create some looks from behind the arc. They just couldn’t hit them. Utah shot 3-for-30 on 3-pointers, the most attempts they’ve had in the series but still just a paltry 10%. That’s significantly lower than their already poor shooting from deep so far this postseason. The Jazz were only hitting 32% of their 3-pointers coming into this game, down a bit from their 36% 3-point shooting on the season. In Game 6 the Mavericks will have to shut down the 3-point attempts again, but if they struggle to do so, it’s nice to know the Jazz aren’t lighting it up from downtown right now.
Luka Doncic and the Mavericks figured out the offense
In Game 4 it was obvious that Doncic’s return through a wrench into the Dallas offensive machine that had won two games in a row. That’s usually the case whenever a high usage player like Doncic misses time and then returns. Everyone gets used to a more involved role for a few games, then has to go back to their more limited positions once things return to normal. We saw that in the first half of Game 4, but the Mavericks started to figure things out in the second half. They just couldn’t get things lined up in time to pull out the win.
That wasn’t the case in Game 5. The Mavericks stumbled a bit at first, struggling with turnovers. But once they cleaned up their possessions they found a rhythm and started putting some room between themselves and the Jazz. By the third quarter, everyone was locked in and running the offense perfectly. Look at Doncic waltz his way to the basket here:
alright man. pic.twitter.com/w82ShnBLy0— Steve Jones Jr. (@stevejones20) April 26, 2022
That’s a perfect execution of the pick-and-roll by Doncic and Dwight Powell along with a back pick by Reggie Bullock to free up the paint completely. The Mavericks executed cleanly from the second quarter on. More importantly, Doncic and Jalen Brunson figured out a give and take while running the offense. They struggled to find a rhythm with each other in Game 4. Tonight, they looked more like they did in the regular season, and that’s bad news for Utah.
In the play above, Brunson’s movement and shot-making ability make Royce O’Neal hesitate just enough that he’s late to help in the lane. It’s an example of how Brunson’s performance in the series prevents Utah from fully focusing on Doncic every trip down. The Jazz don’t have the perimeter defensive players to stop the Mavericks’ two playmakers at guard, and are unlikely to find a solution by Game 6.
The Mavericks stayed small and still outrebounded the Jazz
By necessity the Mavericks have to play small, as they don’t have a traditional big on the roster beside Boban Marjanovic. They go with a rotation of Powell and Maxi Kleber, and for short stretches even played Dorian Finney-Smith and Davis Bertans at center. Earlier in the series this allowed the Jazz to dominate the glass and get plenty of second chance points.
Not tonight. The Mavericks outrebounded the Jazz 49-40 and outscored them 14-8 on second chance points. They grabbed more offensive rebounds than Utah, 11-7. Doncic outrebounded Gobert 13 to 11. It was a gritty, tough performance by a Mavericks team that is showing more and more that they can win rock fight games.
Here’s our latest episode of Mavs Moneyball After Dark. If you’re unable to see the embed below, click here to be taken to the podcast directly. Or go to your favorite podcast app and search Mavs Moneyball Podcast.