Dallas Mavericks key to defeating Utah Jazz in playoffs: 5. Non-Luka minutes
Last year, the Mavs outscored the LA Clippers by seven in Luka’s 281 minutes in their first-round playoff series, but Dallas lost because the Clippers held a 43 points edge in the 55 minutes he was on the bench. Doncic is the team’s offensive engine and lead ball-handler, but they need to be better when he is not on the floor.
It becomes even more important with Luka’s calf injury looming over the series. He appears unlikely to play in Game 1, but when will he be healthy enough to return?
In order for the Mavericks to advance, they need to win at least one of the first two home games. Getting homecourt was massive as the Jazz now have to travel to Dallas and defeat the Mavs in front of a rocking crowd at the American Airlines Center in games one and two. Utah has struggled to close out contests down the stretch, but can the Mavericks take advantage without Luka?
They are better equipped to deal with a Luka Doncic injury this year. Jalen Brunson has shifted into the starting five and gives them another playmaker. The addition of Spencer Dinwiddie improved their ability to attack the paint, and the two can share the floor to keep the Jazz guessing.
The Mavs need to hold their own without Luka on the floor. If he returns before Game 4, Dallas could easily take the series, and fans will be watching his minutes closely. It may be the time without Doncic that ensures they advance, though.