After an amazing Round 1 filled with plenty of highs and lows for the Dallas Mavericks, it’s almost time to move on to Round 2. But first, let’s relive some of the best moments from the big 4-2 series win over the Utah Jazz. Here are my top five.
5. Maxi Kleber nails 8 triples in Game 2
After dropping Game 1, it was crucial that the Mavs steal a road win in Game 2. With no Luka Doncic, other guys would have to step up. Enter Maxi Kleber.
Maxi wasn’t the best player in Game 2 (more on this later), but he was arguably the most important.
The 2021-22 season was on offensive nightmare for Kleber. And the nightmare seemed to get worse and worse as the season wore on. In March, Kleber shot 31.2 percent from the field and 17.6 percent from 3-point land. He was basically an offensive liability, either missing open shots or refusing to take them.
He wasn’t someone I had high hopes for in the playoffs, but in Game 2, Maxi answered the call, nailing eight 3-pointers on 11 attempts. He did exactly what the Mavs needed him to do, and because of that, the Mavs had taken home-court advantage.
4. Luka Doncic’s shoulder shimmy in Game 5
I’ve said this before, and I’ll say it again: Emotive Luka Doncic is my favorite Luka Doncic. He plays the game with so much joy, and when he shows that emotion, it highlights how special of a player he is and how lucky we are to get to cheer for him on a daily basis.
When Luka returned from injury in Game 4, he looked okay. I mean, he was good, but he wasn’t special. Game 5 is when he got his magic back.
Midway through the third quarter, the Mavs had taken a huge lead. They were up 22 points and Luka came down and drilled a stepback three over Bojan Bogdanovic. Then, on the very next possession, Luka hit the same stepback three over Bogdanovic again, increasing the Mavs lead to 28. It was the nail in the coffin for the Jazz.
After Luka hit that second three, he showed some of that classic aforementioned emotion, doing what can only be described as a shoulder shimmy.
Shimmy @luka7doncic #dALLasIN pic.twitter.com/510No1Kxme— Dallas Mavs Slovenia (@dallasmavsSLO) April 27, 2022
It was perfect. It was the sign that Luka is back and ready for more. Yet somehow, it wasn’t even Luka’s best moment of the game.
3. Luka Doncic puts Rudy Gobert in a coffin
You know when you’re watching a basketball game and a player does something so odd and spectacular that you find yourself standing next to your couch with your hands over your head not quite sure how you got there? Well, Luka provided one of those moments in the second quarter of Game 5.
Luka has Gobert isolated on the wing and promptly drives by him. Knowing the high-level shotblocker is still on his hip, Luka uses five ball fakes in three seconds, and ultimately ends up throwing a no-look and-one over his shoulder. Naturally, it went in and Luka proceeded to yell “He can’t guard me!” (Atleast that’s what it looks like he yelled.)
: LUKA DONCIC IS A MAGICIAN— Bally Sports Southwest (@BallySportsSW) April 26, 2022
Made ya look, Rudy@dallasmavs | @luka7doncic | #dALLasIN | #NBAPlayoffs | #LukaDoncic pic.twitter.com/IoK89QjqqG
2. Jalen Brunson’s heroics
With no Luka in the lineup, and the Mavs down 1-0 in the series, Jalen Brunson put his Superman cape on and went to work.
Brunsons scored a career-high 41 points on 15-of-25 shooting from the floor and 6-of-10 shooting from deep to go along with eight rebounds, five assists and two steals. It was a magical performance from someone who is going to get showered with money this summer.
Brunson wasn’t done there, though. In Game 3, he poured in 31 points on efficient shooting to lead the Mavs to a second consecutive win. Jalen Brunson’s totals for Games 2 and 3: 72 points and one turnover.
1. Mavericks win the series
There were tons of fantastic moments in Round 1 for the Mavs (both little and big), but none were better than the moment Bojan Bogdanovic missed the potential game-winning three in Game 6.
It was the first time the Mavs won a playoff series since 2011 (when they ultimately won the championship) and it was first playoff win in Luka Doncic’s career. That’s a big deal, and you can see the relief and happiness in the celebration.
Luka Doncic celebrates winning the first playoff series of his career pic.twitter.com/91UCqYlrGl— NBA TV (@NBATV) April 29, 2022
Round 2, here we come!