Dallas Mavericks key to defeating Utah Jazz in playoffs: 2. Defense
The Mavs secured homecourt in the first round of the playoffs on the back of a massive defensive improvement under first-year head coach Jason Kidd. The Hall of Fame point guard was one of the best perimeter defenders of his generation, and he helped Dallas win a title in 2011 behind stout D. Dallas climbed to seventh in defensive rating this season, and they allowed 0.9 points per 100 possessions fewer than the Jazz during the regular season.
Since the beginning of March, the Mavericks have a 114.1 defensive rating, which sits 14th in the NBA as the Jazz jumped to seventh. Dallas was not as crisp with their rotations down the stretch, and they got a few unlucky breaks.
Can the Mavs slow down Donovan Mitchell? Last year, he had seven 30-point games in his ten playoff contests. The 6’1 guard is going to try to take over for Utah in this series. As Mitchell draws more attention, he will kick to open shooters, and fans know the Jazz can be lethal from 3-point range. Dallas needs to keep Mitchell out of the paint and force contested jumpers.
The Mavericks also need to keep Rudy Gobert off the offensive glass and force him to dribble anytime he gets the ball. Not allowing the seven-footer to convert easy buckets is another key as Dallas hopes to have the superior defense in the series.