Jazz vs. Mavericks score, takeaways: Luka Doncic and Jalen Brunson dominate Utah in Game 5 win for Dallas
Thr Mavericks are one win away from a berth in the Western Conference semifinals
The Dallas Mavericks are one win away from advancing to the Western Conference semifinals after their 102-77 blowout win over the Utah Jazz on Monday night. From start to finish the Mavericks were dominant, feeding off a raucous crowd inside American Airlines Center to build up a 16-point lead at halftime. Luka Doncic put up 33 points, 13 rebounds and five assists in just his second game in this series after missing the first three games with a calf strain. Dallas also got 24 points from Jalen Brunson who continues his standout postseason performance.
On the other end of this matchup were the Jazz, who couldn't get anything going on offense. The Mavericks built up an early lead, and Utah could never really make it competitive as Donovan Mitchell and Bojan Bogdanovic combined for just 11 points in the game.
With the win, the Mavericks move one step closer to securing a spot in the Western Conference semifinals against the winner of the series between the Phoenix Suns and New Orleans Pelicans. Those two teams will square off on Tuesday night in Phoenix in Game 5.
Here are three takeaways from Game 5 between the Mavericks and Jazz.
1. Luka Magic
It's been 15 days since Doncic went down with a calf strain in Dallas' final regular-season game back on April 10. He sat out the first three games of this series, and it felt like the Mavericks were playing it close to the chest regarding the severity of his injury as well as the timeline for his return. That return finally happened in Game 4, in which Doncic put up 30 points, but you could see there was a little bit of rust as the Mavericks lost a close one on Saturday.
That was not the case Monday night in Game 5, especially in the third quarter where Doncic's performance ended up being the final nail in Utah's coffin. Nineteen of Doncic's 33 points came in the third quarter, and by the time Doncic checked out at the start of the fourth quarter, Dallas built up a 24-point lead.
Over that 12 minutes of the third quarter, Doncic was relentless in hunting matchups and getting whatever he wanted. To open the quarter he rattled off six-straight points, showing no lingering effects of that calf strain. He executed well in pick-and-rolls, catching Bogdanovic on his hip and getting easy buckets at the rim:
And when that didn't work, he'd reset, post-up Bogdanovic and easily knock down a mid-range turnaround jumper:
When Doncic wasn't maneuvering to the rim, he was sinking 3s in the third quarter, and with each made one the cheers inside American Airlines Center just grew louder. When Doncic returned in Game 3, there were concerns about the possibility of worsening his current injury, but his Game 5 performance -- specifically in the second half -- showed that he was operating at his typical All-NBA level, and that should be scary for the Jazz heading into what could be the last game of the series on Thursday.
2. Utah's shooting woes
Entering the playoffs, the Jazz had the league's top-ranked offense, and ranked second in the league in 3-point attempts. Because of those two stats, I have to admit that I expected the Jazz to turn this series into a shootout, something they certainly would've won against the Mavericks. Instead what's happened is the Jazz have been rather pedestrian on offense, and in Game 5 things took a turn for the worse.
Utah put up just 36 points in the first half, the lowest point total in a half this season for the team. On top of that, the Jazz shot an atrocious 10 percent from deep on 30 attempts. That's one of those stats you have to quadruple check to make sure it's accurate, but that's just how bad Utah shot the ball Monday night. They didn't shoot the ball much better inside the arc either, shooting just 37.7 percent from the field.
Some credit should be given to Dallas' defense, because it was smothering Utah out on the perimeter. All series long the Mavericks have done a great job of running the Jazz off the 3-point line, and while they put some defensive pressure to impact some of those shots, a lot of what Utah was missing came off of really good looks.
It was like there was a lid on the rim for Utah, and it resulted in really poor scoring numbers from the starters. Mitchell finished the game with just nine points while going 4 of 15 from the field, Bogdanovic -- who has really been the most consistent scoring threat for the Jazz in this series -- had only two points on the evening. The leading scorer for Utah ended up being Jordan Clarkson off the bench with 20 points, and Rudy Gobert was the only other Jazz scorer to finish with double digits in points (17).
I don't expect the Jazz to shoot the ball that poorly in Game 6 on Thursday, but it was definitely a demoralizing offensive night from Utah that has the potential to really zap some motivation from this team.
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3. Dallas could win its first playoff series since 2011
With a 3-2 series lead, the Mavericks will have the opportunity to close the Jazz out in Game 6 on Thursday, which would give the franchise its first playoff series win since 2011. It's rather surprising that Dallas has failed to win a playoff series since it won a championship, but after a handful of first-round exits, this time seems like the Mavericks best shot at ending that drought.
But Dallas was in this exact position in last year's playoffs as well and failed to advance. The Mavs were up 3-2 against the Los Angeles Clippers and went on to lose the next two games. That was also after being up 2-0 in the series early on. But while majority of the roster looks the same as last year, there are a few notable changes to this team that make this situation so different from last year.
Jason Kidd has significantly improved the Mavericks defense, which has helped them stave off runs from a potent offense in the Jazz. The emergence of Brunson in the postseason has elevated the Mavericks on offense, showing that Doncic has a backcourt mate who he can put all his trust in. Throw in the shooting efficiency of guys like Dorian Finney-Smith, Reggie Bullock and Maxi Kleber, and it feels like Dallas' formula for success has been more fruitful in this series compared to last year. You can't write off the Jazz, because anything can happen, but Dallas has been so consistent in this series that it would be surprising if they didn't close this out in six games.
Mitchell clutched his left hamstring after driving to the rim. That's not great. He managed to walk to the locker room under his own power, but he certainly looked to be uncomfortable.
Mitchell walking back to the locker room after that play. He was grabbing at his left thigh area, we'll have to see what happens with that.
Reggie Bullock has also been ejected from this one -- he was assessed a technical early in the game for arguing with an official.
Whiteside gets a foul and TWO technicals (leads to automatic ejection), Reggie Bullock and Finney-Smith also get technicals. Have to imagine some fines will be coming from the league on this one.
Uh oh things getting a little testy here. Luka went up for a dunk attempt and was clobbered by Hassan Whiteside. Dorian Finney-Smith then escalates the situation and shoves Whiteside, but it looked like Whiteside didn't mean it maliciously and was looking to help Doncic up. But Finney-Smith just came in trying to protect Luka and it was unnecessary.
Dallas just laying it on thick as they just keep building on their lead. This result should hold with under nine minutes remaining in the fourth, and will be one win away from advancing to the second round of the playoffs.
Luka just toying with Utah's defense tonight. He didn't make a single 3-pointer in the first half, now he can't seem to miss and he's got 19 points in the third quarter.
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