The Dallas Mavericks pulled off a gutsy win over the Utah Jazz in Game 2 of their opening series. It took historically great performances from two specific players and the team as a whole, but it was a victory without Luka Doncic regardless.
The differentiator in Game 2 was on the perimeter. Dallas was hot from beyond the arc all night, finishing 22-of-47 (46.8%) from that distance. Those 22 made 3-pointers set a new franchise-best for the postseason.
This was fueled by Maxi Kleber, who knocked down eight of his 11 attempts from deep. This was one make away from tying Jason Terry for the all-time postseason record for triples made in a game.
Dallas made 17 uncontested 3-pointers in this contest, which is the most by any team in last ten postseasons. However, that’s not something the Mavericks are going to depend upon moving forward in this series.
“It’s not live or die by the three. We’re not Golden State,” Spencer Dinwiddie said postgame.
Furthermore, Jalen Brunson continued to shine in the absence of Doncic, finishing the night with a career-high 41 points. He also posted eight rebounds and five assists. From the moment the game tipped off, Brunson was in control of the offense. He became became the fifth member in the history of the Mavericks to score at least 40 points in a playoff game.
“He’s gonna make a lot of money,” said Mavs coach Jason Kidd of Brunson who is set to become an unrestricted free agent this summer. “I don’t know if he needs an agent. It’s not just what he did tonight. He’s shown he deserves to be paid.”What was perhaps most impressive about Brunson’s night was that he kept the offense in rhythm, which helped Dallas take care of the ball. Brunson became the first player in Mavericks history with 40 points and zero turnovers in a playoff game.
As a team, Dallas committed just three turnovers, which is a franchise record since that statistic began being tracked in 1982.
Again, it took a historic night for the Mavs to pull off the much needed win. Now, they’ll head to Utah for the next two games of the series. Although the Jazz would have preferred to win both games without Doncic in the lineup this far, they’re still confident moving forward.
“Two wins is great, but one win is good. We have to make adjustments,” said Rudy Gobert postgame. “It’s a marathon.”
Jazz coach Quin Snyder has a similar mindset entering Game 3, realizing there’s still a ton of basketball left to be played.
“This is the playoffs,” said Snyder after the loss. “It’s 1-1, we’re going back home. It’s a seven-game series.”
Utah struggled to defend the perimeter, which ultimately led to Dallas getting whatever it wanted offensively all over the court.
“This is something we can fix,” said Donovan Mitchell postgame.A true x-factor in this series, veteran Mike Conley was held to zero points in Game 2, missing all seven of his shot attempts. Especially if Doncic comes back into the fold later in the series, Conley will need to contribute more offensively.
Nonetheless, it’s a tied series with the Jazz hosting the next two games. Regardless of the personnel they’re up against, it’s a clean slate with five games remaining.
“We are not going to overreact,” said Mitchell after Game 2. “We just have to go home and try and take care of business. They are going to try and get a split like we got a split here.”
Utah continues to dominate the boards with its size, but that proved to not be enough with the Dallas bigs knocking down triples at a high rate in Game 2.
Moving forward, the status of Doncic will be a huge swing in how this series ends.