The Dallas Mavericks clobbered the Utah Jazz in Game 5 of their first-round playoff series on Monday night to take a 3-2 edge. Luka Doncic is back, and the Mavs look like the better team, but the Jazz just need two straight wins to advance. Dallas has an advantage, but a Jazz win in Utah forces a Game 7 where anything can happen.
Utah was fearing the worst after Donovan Mitchell limped off the court in the fourth quarter of Game 5 with what looked like a hamstring injury, but the MRI was negative and Mitchell declared himself ready for Thursday’s Game 6. It is worth watching the three-time All-Star closely to see how he is moving.
The Mavericks want Mitchell to play because they are going to win the series anyway. Dallas is the better team and further proved it in the Game 5 blowout. The Jazz have no answers for the Mavericks' plan, and Dallas does not want to give Utah the excuse of not being at full strength. Here is a look at three more reasons Dallas wants Mitchell to play.
Why Donovan Mitchell playing in Game 6 is good news for the Dallas Mavericks
Mitchell is Utah’s leading scorer in the series at 26.0 points per game, but he is doing so inefficiently. He has made just 37.9 percent from the field and is shooting 19.5 percent on his threes.
His likely replacement if he were to miss time is Jordan Clarkson, who is averaging 18.0 points per game on 60.3 percent shooting in the series. Putting Dorian Finney-Smith on Clarkson will slow him down, but Utah’s sixth man is hot and Mitchell is not at the moment.
Things change when star players miss time. The Jazz would switch the way they play and look for different ways to exploit the Mavericks' attack. Dallas has solved Utah’s puzzle with Donovan Mitchell on the court, so they do not want Utah to come out with a completely new gameplan without their All-Star guard.
The Mavericks have hunted Mitchell when they have the ball too. The 6’1 guard has struggled to stop dribble penetration in the series, so Dallas wants him on the floor because they can exploit his defense. It is one more player for Luka Doncic and Jalen Brunson to attack.
The Dallas Mavericks want Donovan Mitchell to play in Game 6 as they look to close out the series in Utah. Yes, the three-time All-Star could make the Mavs regret that with a monster performance on Thursday night, but after Game 5, Dallas will take their chances.