While the availability of Luka Doncic continues to be the storyline of the opening series between the Dallas Mavericks and Utah Jazz, it hasn’t mattered to this point. On Thursday night, the Mavericks got a huge win on the road in Utah to go up 2-1 in the series.
The Mavs pulled out to an early lead, but the Jazz chipped away in the third quarter. However, the Dallas defense showed out in the fourth quarter to secure the 126-118 victory.
“We made timely shots and we made timely stops,” said Mavs coach Jason Kidd following the win.
In the absence of Doncic, Jalen Brunson continued to play like a star. After his 31-point performance in Game 3, he’s now averaging 32.0 points per contest in the series.Utah is in a tough situation after losing its first matchup of the series at home. Even without Doncic taking the floor yet again, the Mavericks have taken control of the series with a 2-1 lead.
The Mavs were once again on fire from beyond the arc on Thursday night, converting on 18 of their 42 triples as a team. This was again sparked by forward Maxi Kleber, who is now 12-16 through his past two games.
“When you’re a hot player, you’re a hot player,” said Kleber following Game 3.
For the Jazz, the offense still hasn’t clicked in this series. The slump towards the end of the regular season has continued into the postseason to this point. While they scored 118 points tonight, it wasn’t enough as the scoring was stagnant in the first and fourth quarter.
Overall, Utah looked solid offensively shooting 56.5% from the floor. It just wasn’t consistent enough to get the job done.
After scoring zero points in Game 3, Mike Conley produced 21 points on 14 shots Thursday night. Bojan Bogdanovic scored 24 points while Donovan Mitchell produced 32 of his own.
With that in mind, Mitchell still believes everything starts with defense for this Jazz team.
“It starts defensively, and everything else falls into place,” he said postgame.
For the first time this series, the rebounding battle was balanced. Both teams pulled down 32 boards on the night.
This series is far from over, even if Doncic does return at some point. The Jazz have the talent to make things interesting down the stretch, and the Mavericks know that.
“I’m proud of this team,” Brunson said postgame. “I’m proud of the fight that we have. They’re a team that’s not going to quit. They’re a good team.”
Game 4 will take place on Saturday in Utah.