By DaVince “Dino” Wright
In my last NBA Playoffs article, I took the Mavericks winning this series 4-1 against Utah in Game 5. Dallas was up 2-1 in the series heading into Game 4 in Utah. The return of Luka Doncic for the Mavs would solidify a Game 4 win and force the Jazz to play better on the road to make it a decent series. Over the last three seasons, the Jazz sat in the 3rd or 4th spot in the Western Conference heading into the playoffs. Utah struggles in the playoffs usually losing in the first or second round. The problem with the Mavericks is allowing teams to stay close and not finishing the job in the 3rd and 4th quarters of every close game they’ve played in the last two years. I can see this series reaching a Game 7 now.
Mavericks starting point guard Luka Doncic returned to the lineup for Game 4 against the Jazz. He had been sitting out while recovering from a calf strain at the end of the regular season. Luka is one of the main reasons why Dallas made it to the playoffs, but he’s not the lone reason why they are there. In Game 4 he had 30 points on 11/21 field goals but had 4 crucial turnovers as well. The problem with Luka is how he needs the ball in his hands, but struggles with clock management. There’s 24 seconds on the shot clock and he spends 20 of them trying to make up his mind on what he needs to do. This has been the proverbial Achilles’ heel for him and the Mavericks since he’s been on the team. The Mavericks basically took the ball out of PG Jalen Bronson’s hands and gave it to Luka. Luka over dribbles the ball with 11 seconds and to only pass it to Spencer Dinwiddie to take a bad shot with a second left. Perhaps I’m the only one that sees that this is a problem that hinders this team.
The Mavericks have to allow Jalen Brunson to take control of the team. Put Luka at the 2 position (shooting guard) and let the chips fall where they may. Head Coach Jason Kidd has experience working through problems and inserting players into positions that will help the team. PF Dorian Finney-Smith needs to play tougher on the block and eliminate shooting 3’s on the offensive end. If you go back and watch the first 3 games of this series, Dallas can win this series by playing tough defense, creating turnovers and quality decision making from the point guard spot. These are the keys to victory for the Mavericks in the playoffs.
First Round Results and Upcoming Schedule – All Times CST
4/16 – Utah Jazz 99 – Dallas Mavericks 93
4/18 – Dallas Mavericks 110 – Utah Jazz 104
4/21 – Dallas Mavericks 126 – Utah Jazz 118
4/23 – Utah Jazz 100 – Dallas Mavericks 99
4/25 – 8:30 p.m. – Utah Jazz vs Dallas Mavericks – Game 5 – TNT
4/28 – tbd – Dallas Mavericks vs Utah Jazz – Game 6
4/30 – tbd – Utah Jazz vs Dallas Mavericks – Game 7 – *if necessary – TNT