The Utah Jazz head into Game 3 against the Mavericks with the series tied at one win apiece. An impressive 41-point performance from Jalen Brunson lifted the Mavs to a 110-104 victory in Game 2. It was a huge missed opportunity for the Jazz as it looks like Luka Doncic might be able to come back for Dallas when of the next game. Either way, the Jazz don’t have time to look back as they will travel to Utah for Games 3 and 4. Nonetheless, it’s time to watch Game 3 of the Jazz-Mavs.
Jazz-Mavs Game 3
Mike Conley scores over 20 points
So far, the series has been disappointing for Mike Conley. The Ohio State product scored 13 points on 6-of-12 shooting in the opener. He followed that effort up with a scoreless performance in Game 2 where he shot 0-7 from the field. Conley averaged just under 14 points per game in the regular season, but looks set to break through. He may not be posting eye-popping numbers, but Conley is often the backstop in this Jazz offense. Getting him back on track would help the Jazz find their groove as an offense.
While Donovan Mitchell is a special talent and arguably the best player in the Jazz, the isolation heavy sets haven’t led to much success for the team. If Mike Conley can knock down some early shots, stopping the defensive focus on Mitchell would be hugely beneficial. Look for Conley to come out in attack mode and look for his own shot early on.
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Rudy Gobert will have a hard time
Rudy Gobert is a special defender. His 7’1 frame and 7’9 wingspan make it nearly impossible to properly attack the basket and are a big reason for his three Defensive Player of the Year awards. While his paint protection is elite, Gobert struggles when forced out of the perimeter.
The Mavs are clearly aware of this and capitalized on isolating the big man in space. Dallas opted to go small and give Maxi Kleber extended minutes in Game 2. The German forward was an afterthought in Utah’s defensive scheme as Gobert allowed him to sit comfortably on the perimeter. Kleber finished the game with 25 points, 6 rebounds and 3 assists in 32 minutes of play. He knocked down 8 of his 11 three-point attempts, most of them turning out to be unchallenged looks.
A big part of the Jazz’s defensive scheme is funneling players from the perimeter to Gobert in the paint, but that’s not effective if the Mavs are shooting at such an impressive rate from the perimeter. The Jazz are understaffed to play effectively small, so Gobert will likely continue to be left there to struggle.
Donovan Mitchell scores 40 points
The scoring numbers may look good on paper, but Donovan Mitchell lacked efficiency in his game. The Utah superstar guard scored 32 and 34 in Games 1 and 2, but is a combined 23-59 (38.9%) on placement attempts. With the home crowd behind him, look for Mitchell to seize the moment in Game 3. There have been several examples of players raising their game in the playoffs and Mitchell should do the same. Spida needs to take over the spotlight and find his groove in this game.
It’s all the more important for this superstar performance given the return of Luka Doncic. The Mavs are definitely a different team with him in the lineup. There have been many whispers of displeasure about several jazz players over the past few seasons. Whether it’s Mitchell’s desire for a bigger market or Rudy Gobert’s dissatisfaction with Mitchell, there’s relative uncertainty surrounding the Jazz. A first-round exit could have major implications for the future of the franchise. Whether Mitchell sees himself in Utah long term or not, this is his opportunity to shine on the brightest stage. Expect Mitchell to play like the superstar he is as the team tries to regain control of the series.