The Dallas Mavericks put a disappointing game four loss behind them and stunned the Utah Jazz in game five of their Western Conference playoffs duel. Dallas stifled Utah on defense for the entirety of the game, keeping the Jazz to just 77 points. While Luka Doncic and Jalen Brunson dominated, Donovan Mitchell, Bojan Bogdanovic, and Mike Conley were held to 15 combined points on 5/30 shooting. The Mavericks have a chance to win the series in Salt Lake City.
Dallas Mavericks: Keys to Game Six
3. Plenty of Iso Play from the Backcourt Stars
Utah struggled to contain Brunson in the three games that Doncic missed. Then Doncic returned, and he began to dominate. While Doncic poured in 33 points in game five, Brunson still had 24. The Dallas backcourt duo can get virtually whatever they want on Utah’s perimeter defense. For this reason, the two players should have plenty of iso play in game six.
Conley is a well-respected veteran, but he has been unable to do anything on Brunson. Brunson has now scored 20+ points in five straight games for the first time in his entire career. It’s no coincidence that this is all happening against the Jazz and their perimeter defense.
Utah seems content with keeping Bogdanovic on Doncic. Simply put, it hasn’t worked. Bogdanovic has plenty of size to match up with Doncic, but he can’t keep up. If the defensive matchups remain the same, the Dallas guards need to take advantage.
2. The Drive-and-Dish
The Mavericks have been eating from the three-point line throughout the series, especially from the corner three. Maxi Kleber, Dorian Finney-Smith, and Reggie Bullock seem to always be open and drain their shots more often than not.
This, once again, is due to the weak Jazz perimeter defense. The Mavericks’ guards, also including Spencer Dinwiddie, are getting to the paint with ease. Once there, they can go for the score or dish it out. One of Rudy Gobert or Hassan Whiteside will be at the rim, but then another Jazz defender will come in and help. This almost always leaves a wide-open Maverick on the three-point line.
“If it ain’t broke, don’t fix it.” The Mavericks’ strategy has worked well thus far and they should keep it going.
3. The Dallas Mavericks Must Continue Their Stifling Defense
Game five was a defensive clinic, and Doncic even called it the Mavericks’ best defensive effort of the entire season. Outside of that game, even in the losses, the Mavericks’ defense has played well. In a close-out game like game six, there’s no time to take their foot off the pedal.
Finney-Smith is playing incredible defense on Mitchell, so much so that the Jazz continuously try to screen Finney-Smith off of their star. Bullock will guard anyone he’s asked and play 40+ minutes a game. Kleber and Dwight Powell are doing well on Utah’s premier big men. All around it’s been a stellar effort, and Doncic, who remains a very underrated defender, is back in the fold.
A win in game six, especially in Salt Lake City, will come off the backs of the defense. If the New Orleans Pelicans beat the Phoenix Suns before the Mavericks game, then Dallas can also get the upper hand in rest for the second round.
Main Image: Embed from Getty Images