The Dallas Mavericks fell to the Utah Jazz in Game One of the first round today, losing at home 99-93. Donovan Mitchell led the Jazz team with 32 points. Galen Bronson advanced to the Mavericks with 24 points.
The opening frame of the 2022 qualifiers saw the Dallas Mavericks fight a swing battle with the Utah Jazz. After starting as cold as ice from the ground, Dallas hit a number of baskets with a 17-4 run putting the Mavericks ahead. Utah bounced back even though the Jazz continued to attack the edge relentlessly. After one quarter, the Mavericks found themselves 23-20 high.
The Mavericks were able to increase their lead to eight early in the quarter, but the Jazz came back again to lock the lead to 32-30 through Jordan Clarkson’s edge attacks. After a timeout, Dallas scored three goals for Davis Bertans and stood Reggie Bullock to return with seven. But Maverick’s attack will turn cold again, with sloppy possessions soaked in dribbling and the Jazz will go on a 15-6 run led by Bojan Bogdanovic to close out the inning. Dallas went to the locker room down 45-43.
Donovan Mitchell was knocked out by Utah after a poor shot in the first half. And he directed a blatant foul on a corner kick to take a five-point lead after four minutes of the quarter-finals. The Jazz continued to score while Dallas could not have a shot ahead by as much as 12 points late in the quarter. A late increase led by Spencer Dinwiddie helped close the gap, but the Mavericks trailed 73-65 heading into the final frame.
Despite a number of Maverick errors leveled early on, the Jazz caused Dallas to fall back in the first half of the quarter, increasing their lead to 11 midway through the strength of good ball movement and good shooting. The Mavericks kept their close range by making mistakes and hitting free throws. Dallas cracked and broke, hitting the line over and over and pulling by two points after Reggie Bullock with a hat-trick from Dorian Finney Smith. Three Maxi Clipper managed to pull the Mavericks inside a single point at 2:12 mark but they couldn’t take the lead. After a few missed hits and some fouls to extend the game, Dallas fell 99-93.
With Luka Doncic out, it was inevitable that the bulk of the scoring and game making would fall on these two guys, but they weren’t up to the task. They scored 36 points from 39 shots combined (they only scored 15), which is very ineffective. The two hit the line by the ton, throwing a combined 22 free throws for Dallas, and Spencer in particular missed a whopping six of his 16 attempts (Bronson missed one). In a six-point game, those really hurt.
Defensively, both should be better. Bronson was often toasted by the elder Bogdanovic, which it does, but it still really hurt the Mavericks. Not only was Dinwiddy terrible on defense, between some bad gambling and bad boxing, he made a lot of mistakes in a role that demanded a lot from both parties.
I was more than puzzled that the offensive game plan looked remarkably similar to a team led by Luka Doncic. Brunson and Dinwiddie both had usage rates of 34% or higher and gave us the ineffective offensive game mentioned above. With some players that Dallas has, I was surprised by the amount of that game on the offensive end to dribble the ball for more than 20 seconds and get a powerful shot.
Part of that is Rudy Gobert’s presence, but one would think Dallas might try to find a few more shots for Dorian Vinnie Smith who only took four shots in the first 35 minutes of playing time. The bottom line is that the Dallas Mavericks need a little more offensive creativity if they’re going to take Game Two. Getting to the line as much has helped them, but it’s not a regular game plan for success with this group of players.
One of the many issues surrounding Luka Doncic’s loss is that he is an outcast and the team must do a better job with limited second chances. The Jazz are a very good offensive rebound team and they proved it again today, snatching 13. But the problem is beyond Rudy Gobert or Hassan Whiteside. Other Jazz players grabbed eight of those boards and a 20-7 second chance battle was one of, if not the deciding, factors in the game.
As a team, Dallas was 9 out of only 32 out of three. But if we get past the key ball players (Bronson and Dinwiddy were just 1 of 7), Dallas needs another player other than Reggie Bullock and Dorian Finney Smith to take and hit the triples. Josh Green got his chance tonight, but he missed all four and his shot looked completely different from the season. Davis Bertans hit one of the three and maybe Dallas should try to find it more than looks. It was nice to see Maxi Clipper two out of five but with how much he plays he might need to take two or three more and have to hit them. Most of these appearances are wide open and if Dallas had a chance, they should shoot better.
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