The Dallas Mavericks grabbed a 3-2 edge in their first-round playoff series against the Utah Jazz on Monday night with a blowout victory in Game 5. Luka Doncic and Jalen Brunson will get the headlines for the Mavs, but Dorian Finney-Smith locked down Donovan Mitchell and played a starring role in the win.
Mitchell has struggled to find his rhythm in this series, and the three-time All-Star was quick to credit Doe-Doe for the reasoning behind his poor shooting. Mitchell is averaging 26.0 points per game in the series, but on just 37.9 percent shooting from the field and 19.5 percent on his 3-point attempts.
The Mavericks' defense made a massive leap this season and finished seventh in defensive rating with Finney-Smith leading their charge. Head coach Jason Kidd made it a priority, but nobody believed they would jump this far with personnel often cited as the reasoning for their defensive struggles in recent years. Doe-Doe keeps getting better, but is he an elite defender?
Is Dallas Mavericks wing Dorian Finney-Smith a lockdown defender?
Finney-Smith did not receive a vote for Defensive Player of the Year, and he appears to be an afterthought for the All-Defensive teams. The 6’7 wing never gets the respect he deserves. He has taken significant strides on both ends of the floor this season, including becoming an elite perimeter defender.
Anywhere Donovan Mitchell has gone in this series, Finney-Smith has been there. Most of the All-Star's makes have come off switches or hitting difficult contest jumpers with Doe-Doe's hand in his face. According to NBA Stats, Mitchell has been guarded by Finney-Smith for almost 39 minutes in the series, and he is 14 of 48 from the field and two of 19 from 3-point range when guarded by the Mavs top defender.
That only furthers a trend for Finney-Smith. During the regular season, Mitchell, Kevin Durant, Devin Booker, Ja Morant, Paul George, Brandon Ingram, and Dejounte Murray all shot under 40 percent when Doe-Doe was guarding them on at least 14 shots. The Mavericks wing has been able to lock down some of the best scorers in basketball in coach Kidd’s system.
Dorian Finney-Smith has been so outstanding in the playoffs that Kidd struggles to take him off the floor. Hopefully, his performance in the postseason earns Doe-Doe the respect and admiration he deserves.
The 6’7 wing is the team’s best defender and a true lockdown option that has earned every cent of his new contract extension he signed just after the trade deadline. Finney-Smith deserved to be on the All-Defensive team this year, and he will keep proving it every night in the playoffs.