The second most pivotal game of a seven-game series is game five when both teams are deadlocked at two wins apiece. That’s exactly what we have here in this series between the Jazz and the Mavs. Despite Luka coming back for game four and dropping an efficient 30 points and 10 rebounds, the Jazz still came out as victors. It came down the wire as with the Mavs up one and under a minute left Doncic drilled a step-back three over the outstretched arm of Gobert.
That seemed like the dagger but not if Donovan Mitchell had anything to say about it. Mitchell missed a floater but followed his own miss for an and-one banker to cut the lead back to one. After an empty Mavs possession, Mitchell and Gobert combined for an alley-oop dunk to give the Jazz the lead. Then the Jazz wisely doubled Doncic at the perfect time to force a bad last shot and the Jazz escaped with a crucial win to tie the series up at 2-2.
How Utah Can Win:
If anything, the Jazz proved they can play a bit of defense outside of Gobert’s paint protection. In game four they ratcheted up the intensity on the ball and rotated well along the perimeter. It wasn’t perfect but it was enough improvement in a big-time weak spot for this team. Utah found a couple other points of success when it came to Jordan Clarkson and his scoring production off the bench. It’s clear at this point that Dallas has and will continue to force Mitchell into high scoring volume numbers but low efficiency. This means the likes of Clarkson or Bojan Bogdanovic keep having efficient 25 or more scoring nights. The other success point revolves around their small lineup. Utah has deployed a smaller lineup with Eric Paschall and Danuel House stretching outside of their normal positions. These lineups should cut into Whiteside’s playing time as the Jazz offense can be more dynamic playing small ball. If the defense holds up and role players step up offensively, the Jazz are in good shape.
How Dallas Can Win:
People may question how the Mavs lost with Luka back in the lineups but took two of three without him. However, it’s one of those situations in sports where the team finds a certain groove without their best player. When they return, the players have to adjust back to their normal roles which can take time. We shouldn’t expect this period of time to take very long for Dallas since they nearly took down the Jazz on the road in game one with Doncic. The biggest key for the Mavs will be how they manage Brunson’s ball-handling responsibilities with their typical brand of Luka ball. Brunson has come along so well in this series that you don’t want to stunt his abilities. At the same time, Dallas must give the keys to their franchise player and let him work. It’s a balance and a tough one to strike at that but we’ll see how Kidd manages this situation. One other key will be the Mavs hot three-point shooting as they’ve shot it at nearly a 39% clip for the series.
The Spread Via FanDuel:
Jazz: +3 (+130 ML)
Mavericks: -3 (-154 ML)
Final Prediction: Mavericks 108, Jazz 102