3 things from a Dallas Mavericks demolition of the Utah Jazz, 102-77

The Dallas Mavericks crushed the Utah Jazz 102-77 Monday night in Dallas. The 25-point margin does not do justice to how badly Dallas defeated Utah. The Game 5 victory brings the Mavericks up in the 3-2 series. Dallas may close the series out Thursday in Utah.

The Mavericks were early aggressive and their defense stifled the Jazz for most of the first half. Despite Dallas playing small, they dominated the interior in the first half. They lived at the edge and went 10-of-12 in the restricted area. They also surpassed Jazz 30-22 on second chance. This helped them cope with early turnover problems and go into the half 52-36. It 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 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 goal 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:

Jazz was able to shoot 3-pointers but could not make them

One of the goals of the Mavericks in this series was to limit the number of 3-pointers the Jazz attempted. Instead, they wanted to chase Utah from the 3-point line and into mid-range floats or hard shots on the edge. And through four games, it worked. Jazz was number two in the league in shots from deep in the regular season, hoisting 40 per. match. But the Mavericks shut it down through four games, allowing the Jazz to only take 28 3-pointers per game. match.

In Game 5, the Jazz were able to create some looks behind the arch. They just could not hit them. Utah shot 3-for-30 on 3-points, most attempts they have had in the series, but still only a paltry 10%. It’s significantly lower than their already poor shooting from deep so far this post-season. The Jazz hit only 32% of their 3-pointers coming into this match, some distance from their 36% 3-point shooting of 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 that the Jazz are not turning up from the center right now.

Luka Doncic and the Mavericks found out the offense

In Game 4, it was clear that Doncic’s return through a wrench into Dallas’ offensive machine, which had won two games in a row. This is usually the case when a high-consumption player like Doncic misses time and then returns. Everyone gets used to a more involved role in a few games, and then has to return to their more limited positions when 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 could not get things in place in time to pull off the win.

That was not the case in Game 5. The Mavericks stumbled a bit in the beginning and struggled with the turnover. But once they had cleaned up their belongings, they found a rhythm and began to make room between themselves and Jazz. By the third quarter, everyone was locked in and running the offensive perfectly. Look at the Doncic roller on the way to the basket here:

It’s a perfect performance of pick-and-roll by Doncic and Dwight Powell along with a back pick by Reggie Bullock to release the paint completely. The Mavericks performed cleanly from the second quarter onwards. More importantly, Doncic and Jalen Brunson figured out a give and take while driving the offensive. 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 piece above, Brunson’s moves and shooting ability make Royce O’Neal hesitate just enough that he is late to help on the court. It’s an example of how Brunson’s performance in the series prevents Utah from focusing fully on Doncic every trip down. The Jazz do not have the perimeter defensive players to stop the Mavericks’ two playmakers on guard, and they are unlikely to find a solution in Game 6.

The Mavericks remained small and still bounced back from the Jazz

The Mavericks must necessarily play small, as they do not have a traditional big on the list other than Boban Marjanovic. They go with a rotation of Powell and Maxi Kleber, and in short, even Dorian Finney-Smith and Davis Bertans played in the middle. Earlier in the series, this allowed the Jazz to dominate the glass and get plenty of second-chance points.

Not tonight. The Mavericks surpassed the Jazz 49-40, scoring them 14-8 on the second chance. They snatched more offensive rebounds than Utah, 11-7. Doncic surpassed Gobert by 13 to 11. It was a tough, tough performance by a Mavericks team that shows more and more that they can win rock fighting games.

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