For a few days, it looked as though the Utah Jazz had solved their problems. After two humiliating losses to the Dallas Mavericks without Luka Doncic, the Jazz stared down the barrel of Doncic's return, played their best defensive game of the postseason and ultimately won with a pass from Donovan Mitchell to Rudy Gobert. Ballgame over. Narrative over … right?
Wrong. The Mavericks steamrolled their way to a 102-77 Game 5 victory that put Utah's backs against the wall yet again. Now it's one loss away from elimination despite opening this series with a three-game head start on Doncic. If they are going to save their season, it starts Thursday night, at home, as the Jazz host the Mavericks for Game 6. Here's everything you need to know as we approach Game 6.
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(4) Dallas Mavericks vs. (5) Utah Jazz
- When: Thursday, April 28 | 10 p.m. ET
- Where: Vivint Arena -- Salt Lake City, Utah
- TV: TNT | Live stream: TNT App
- Odds: DAL -110; UTA -110; O/U 209.5 (via Caesars Sportsbook)
Mavericks: So … Luka Doncic is as dangerous as ever. After scoring 30 points in his Game 4 return, he dropped 19 in the third quarter of Game 5 alone. Dallas has been able to limit his minutes in his first two games back, but he's still been the best player on the floor. Now, the only question remaining is how far he can scale up. The Mavericks might not need him to play 45 minutes to beat the Jazz, but they're going to need every second he can muster if they draw Phoenix in the next round.
Jazz: Could this be the end of an era? The Jazz were the No. 1 seed in the entire league a season ago. Now, they're in danger of falling out of the playoffs in the first round despite drawing an injured opponent. Their roster is old, expensive and limited in terms of flexibility. Enjoy this game, Jazz fans, because if it doesn't go your way, the roster you see next season might be very, very different.
There's something a bit nostalgic about this pick. Last season, the Jazz lost in six to an undermanned opponent. This season, they might lose again in six to another previously undermanned opponent. I might never have another chance to bet against this particular Utah defense, so I'm going to revel in it one last time. The pick: Mavs PK