The Utah Jazz overwhelmed the Dallas Mavericks in the third quarter of game 1 Saturday. No 4th quarter collapse, no lame injuries for critical rotation players, no disappointment for the Jazz. Of course, their are many that want to point to the fact that Dallas star Luka Doncic missed this game for the Mavericks but Utah had a strong showing today, especially when you consider how they have been closing games for the last month or two. Dallas is still a good team even without Luka but it did look like a struggle for their offense for most of the game and ultimately that proved true as the Jazz defense put the clamps down in the 2nd half and showed some grit to hang on for the lead in crunch time.
Dallas has playmakers on their team but none that can put a team on their shoulders and take over a game so to speak. Credit to them for fighting all the way to the end but it was a slog without their star and leading scorer Luka Doncic, as is to be expected. The Mavericks were also without Tim Hardaway Jr. and his 14 PPG so that hurts on offense too. Dallas looked like it was going to run right past the Jazz after they cut the lead to 91-92 on a three made by Maxi Kleber, but then gave up a backbreaking three point shot by Utah’s Royce O’Neale a few plays later and the Jazz salted the game away after that. The Mavericks will try to regroup and no doubt hope to have their leader back when it’s time for game two on Monday evening.
The Jazz finally got a game where they were able to hang on to a lead against a tough opponent. This is the kind of win that could shake them out of their funk when it comes to closing out games. Granted they almost coughed up another double digit lead in the 4th again but this game should be a confidence builder for the Jazz. Mike Conley was BIG in the 4th quarter for the Jazz as he hit 2 timely buckets in crunch time to help keep Dallas at bay and push him into double digit scoring with 13 points. The real keys to this win were Bojan Bogdanovic in the first half and Donovan Mitchell in the second. Bojan kept the Jazz in the game with 20 first half points and Donovan poured in 19 in the third quarter to help the Jazz build enough of a cushion to hang on for the win. Donovan finished with a game high 32 points.
The great thing about Utah winning game 1 is now there is less pressure to win game 2, if they win then great but if they lose then they are still going back to Salt Lake City tied 1-1 and now with home court advantage. I expect Luka to make a magical recovery either before the next game or possibly game 3 because the Mavs may be in trouble if he is not on the floor, it may be hard for them to get even 1 win in this series. Either way it’s going to be an entertaining series if game 1 was any indication. Let’s go Jazz for game 2!!