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NBA

2022 NBA Playoffs Round 1: Dallas Mavericks vs Utah Jazz

The Mavericks will host the Jazz in round one of the NBA playoffs, but will be without their star player, Luka Doncic for game one. Here’s what to expect.

Jennifer Bubel
Update:

The No. 4 Dallas Mavericks will face the No. 5 Utah Jazz in round one of the NBA playoffs on Saturday, but the Mavs will unfortunately be missing their star player, Luka Doncic for game one and possibly game two as well. A Luka-less Mavericks team changes everything in this playoff series. He led the Mavericks in scoring, assists, rebounds, and steals and is among the best in all those categories within the league. Without him, the Mavs will have a rough time against the Jazz. Let’s look at what we can expect.

Can the Mavericks win without Luka Doncic?

With Doncic out for at least one game, maybe two, the Mavericks suffer a great loss. Just how great? Doncic holds a small lead over NBA superstar Michael Jordan in most points per playoff game - 33.5 to his 33.4. Here’s another comparison - when Utah’s Rudy Gobert was defending the screener in pick-and-roll in the regular season, the Jazz only allowed Mavs’ Spencer Dinwiddie 0.84 points per possession and 44% effective field goal percentage. On the other hand, Luka Doncic averaged 1.08 points per possession and 59.8% effective field goal percentage. With Doncic out, the Jazz will have a lot less pressure on their defense.

Who is left in Dallas’ back court?

As impactful as Doncic is for the Mavericks, they don’t solely rely on him. They have guys like Spencer Dinwiddie and Jalen Brunson in the back court, too. In their three games against the Jazz in the regular season, Brunson averaged 19 points, 4.3 assists, and 4.7 rebounds and Dinwiddie averaged 18.3 points on 54.1 percent shooting from the field. Dinwiddie and Dorian Finney-Smith are also quality 3-point shooters, both averaging over 40 percent. Brunson isn’t far behind, averaging around 37 percent. With Dinwiddie, the Mavs have at least an opportunity to take the win without Luka, especially with home court advantage, but it won’t be easy against a Jazz team with a strong offense.

Donovan Mitchell and the Jazz offense

The Jazz boasts the NBA’s most efficient offense. In the regular season, they took the second-most shots from deep and made 36 percent of them. They finished fourth in the league in free throw attempts with 23.4 per game. With All-Star guard Donovan Mitchell on the court, the Mavs could be in trouble. Mitchell shot 8-of-19 from three in the Jazz’s two wins and 3-of-13 in their losses. Keeping up with him on the perimeter is a task for the Dallas defense. If Mitchell can get loose from three, the Jazz are likely to take the win if what the regular season has shown us remains true.

Rudy Gobert and the Jazz defense

Here is where the biggest challenge lies for Dallas: Rudy Gobert. The three-time Defensive Player of the Year guarded the second-most shots in the league and held his opponents to the second-closest field goal percentage. He contests more 3-pointers than any other defensive player, but is capable of defending against any position. He finished the season leading in rebounds with 14.7 per game. With the Mavs’ rebound issues, Gobert could have a field day and if Gobert and Mitchell can play well together (they have had their share of tension between them), the Mavs are in for a struggle.

Game one of the Mavericks vs Jazz series will be on Saturday, April 16 at 1 p.m. ET.

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