3 Takeaways From Game 2 Of Mavericks-Jazz Series

Dallas Mavericks, Utah Jazz, NBA Playoffs
NBA Analysis Network

The Dallas Mavericks evened the series with the Utah Jazz after a 110-104 win to bring the tally to 1-1 without NBA superstar Luka Doncic in the lineup. Still, the Mavericks benefitted from the superb play of Jalen Brunson, who dropped 41 points for Dallas.

Despite holding a seven-point lead in the fourth quarter, Utah could not hold on to win once Dallas inserted Kleber into the line-up to space them out. Kleber made eight of the Mavs’ 22 threes, scoring 25 points in total as the Mavs’ second-leading scorer.

Utah Jazz Defense in Trouble – Again

The most glaring takeaway from Game 2 was that the Utah Jazz are once again facing the defensive collapse they face seemingly every postseason. With Gobert on the floor, the team just cannot guard a well-spaced offense. Of course, as Gobert is perhaps the Jazz’s only elite defender, they need him on the floor.

It happens every postseason, and yet the Jazz return each year without an answer. Teams go small, obliterate Utah’s guards and wings, draw help from Gobert, and then exploit their slow rotations for easy threes. When Gobert doesn’t help, it’s usually easy paint points for the opponent.

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Even without Luka Doncic, the Dallas Mavericks are more than capable of slicing through the Utah defense. Brunson proved as much last night, scoring 41 on just 25 shots. Dinwiddie, despite a poor shooting night, was still effective when he would drive and kick. Dinwiddie shot 5-12 on his two-pointers and dished 6 assists – mostly after drawing Gobert help.

Gobert isn’t the responsible party for the Jazz’s repeated defensive failings, but his limitations do seem to shine the brightest. Even without Luka, the Jazz need more answers to keep the Mavericks out of the paint.

Gobert’s Offense is a Major Issue

While Rudy Gobert isn’t causing problems for the Utah Jazz’s defense, he may be the cause of some issues on the offensive end. Last night, Gobert finished with four turnovers, more than any other player. The Dallas Mavericks as a team had just three turnovers in the game.

A major reason teams can go small and punish the Jazz defense is that Gobert can’t use his height to take advantage on the offensive end. The Mavericks’ physicality on Gobert’s rolls kept him from finishing lobs. Gobert went 2-5 shooting despite taking no shots outside of the restricted area, even though the Maverick’s tallest defender (Dwight Powell) concedes three inches to Gobert.

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The Jazz gave Rudy Gobert a post-up opportunity in this game, a rarity for the center. He couldn’t take advantage, dribbling the ball out of bounds for a turnover. If the Jazz want to punish the Maverick’s small-ball, it starts with Gobert’s offensive contributions.

Luka Doncic Can Take His Time

After two close games without star Luka Doncic, it’s clear the Dallas Mavericks can hold their own without him. If Luka is still feeling the effects of his calf injury, he should be in no rush to return.

The Mavericks are an entirely different level of team with Doncic in the fold. The team went 44-21 with Luka this season and just 8-9 without. But the fact that they’re holding their own against Utah without their star is an encouraging sign.

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If Luka is not healthy for game 3, the Mavericks staff should have confidence holding him out for another game. Even with a relatively tough game for Dinwiddie in game 2 (3 turnovers, 1-6 from deep), Brunson showed he is more than capable of picking up the slack.

The Mavericks can certainly afford to drop Game 3 in Utah if it means Luka will be in a better place come Game 4. Their star will be key to a deep playoff run, but against the Utah Jazz, the Mavericks look to be treading water fine without him.

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