The Dallas Mavericks evened out the series versus the Utah Jazz on Monday in a 110-104 duel. Any playoff game is important, but this win was massive for the Mavericks as they were able to secure a home victory without Luka Doncic. Jalen Brunson erupted for 41 points (a career-high), while Maxi Kleber was electric from range shooting 8/11 from deep.
It was a much-needed win for the Mavericks, although it’s hard to imagine those numbers being sustainable. Riding on the assumption that superstar Doncic will be out, or at least doubtful, for game three, here are three keys for the Mavericks.
Dallas Mavericks: Keys to Game Three vs. Utah Jazz
1. The Number Two Scoring Option Must Improve
If Doncic is out, Brunson becomes the number one option on offense. This, of course, was obvious during game two. Brunson was extremely efficient in his 41-point outing, shooting 15/25 from the field and 6/10 from deep.
Spencer Dinwiddie, however, needs to play better if the Mavericks are going to steal a win in Salt Lake City without Doncic. On the surface level, Dinwiddie’s 17 points and six assists in game two are solid numbers. With that being said, he shot poorly, making six out of 18 attempts. On a night where the majority of the Mavericks were hot from three, Dinwiddie only shot 1/6.
Dinwiddie is certainly capable of playing better. The minutes will always be there too. It’s important for him to remain confident in attacking the basket, which of course is difficult with Rudy Gobert on the floor, and also taking step-back threes. Brunson put the team on his back, but Dinwiddie has to improve playing second-fiddle.
2. Keep the Pressure on Utah’s Star
Donovan Mitchell is one of the best scorers in the entire league. This is a well-known fact. Dallas, however, has kept him in check when digging down deep into the stats.
Mitchell scored 32 points in game one. This, however, came from poor 10/29 shooting. Ten of Mitchell’s points came from the free-throw line. In game two, Mitchell scored 34 points. It was another poor shooting night all-around, as he shot 13/30 from the field and 3/10 from three. In addition, Mitchell missed his last eight shots of the game which allowed Dallas to maintain their lead.
The point averages are there for Mitchell, but the Mavericks are forcing him to take a ton of shots before hitting those numbers. This is a major reason why the Jazz, a fantastic regular season offense, are averaging 101.5 points per game this series.
Dorian Finney-Smith is doing a stellar job of keeping Mitchell quiet. The Jazz have noticed this, as they’ve been beginning plays with screens to separate Mitchell from Finney-Smith. Mavericks head coach Jason Kidd will have to address this as keeping Finney-Smith on Mitchell is key.
3. Dallas Mavericks Must Create More Plays for a Sniper
Reggie Bullock has been an unsung hero for the Mavericks so far in this series. He plays strong perimeter defense, can switch with ease, and has hit a number of important shots.
Bullock has plenty of confidence in his shot and a very quick release. For this reason, the Mavericks need to draw up more plays for him. This is easier with Doncic, as he can get a lot of defensive attention when driving towards the rim. This creates openings for Bullock. Now that the Jazz know what Brunson is capable of, he should look for the drive-and-dish more often.
It’s not impossible, but it’s unlikely that Kleber has another shooting performance like the one he had on Monday night. Bullock is capable of that same kind of performance, and Dallas needs to feed him.
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