Monday’s result was everything a Dallas Mavericks fan could want.
Dallas beat the number one seeded Utah Jazz in a game that felt intense but was never too close. The final score read 111-103, but the final result meant so much more.
Without the second-best player on the roster in Kirstaps Porzingis, Dallas outclassed the Utah Jazz for 48 minutes. A typically devastating three-point shooting team, in the Jazz, were held to an anemic 27 percent from behind the arc.
Star guard Donovan Mitchell didn’t make a single three-pointer in the contest, and from the field, he shot 6-23 on the night. He looked out of sorts. And outside of Mike Conley, no one on the Jazz roster played particularly well. Dallas chose the perfect night to have its best defensive performance on the season. And in doing so, the Mavericks showed the NBA world that no team wants to meet them in round one of the NBA playoffs.
The game offensively:
Offensively for Dallas, there wasn’t much the Mavericks couldn’t do. Dorian Finney-Smith advantageously scored a season-best 23 points. He exploited the matchup against Rudy Gobert, indicating that in the playoffs if a team spaces Gobert out on the floor, his impact averting shots at the rim is mitigated.
Dallas gave the blueprint for how to beat the Jazz in a seven-game series. Defensively, a team needs to take away the three-point shot. And offensively, teams need to attack Gobert and force him to matchup man-to-man, instead of roaming the paint looking for the weakside block.
And outside of those two aspects, teams need to place the ball in the star player’s hands and allow them to take advantage of key pick-and-roll matchups. Luka Doncic did so on Monday to the tune of 31 points, nine rebounds, and eight assists.
Utah struggles to guard against big guards who can see over the defense. If the Jazz aims to employ drop pick-and-roll coverage, Doncic can, and will, exploit that element of the defense.
In hard hedge scenarios, Doncic is a willing passer, and he will drop a pocket pass to the rolling big man.
And if the Jazz aims to cover pick-and-rolls with switches, Doncic can take advantage of any one-on-one matchup.
Utah was forced to pick its poison last night. And with the three-point shot not falling, there was no real opportunity for the Jazz to put together a lengthy run.
Dallas gave the NBA the blueprint to beat the Jazz in the playoffs. That is why Dallas should label this a “signature” win going forward.
Without Porzingis, Dallas played its best defensive game of the season. It brings to question, what can this team be in the playoffs with a healthy Kristaps? Record wise, Dallas may not look like a contender, but rest assured, no top Western Conference team wants to play the Mavericks in an opening-round series. Monday night proved that indefinitely to those watching.
Feature image via Kevin Jairaj-USA TODAY Sports