5 X-factors that will decide Dallas Mavericks versus Utah Jazz playoff series

Dallas Mavericks, Luka Doncic
Dallas Mavericks, Luka Doncic / Jerome Miron-USA TODAY Sports
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Dallas Mavericks, Luka Doncic
Dallas Mavericks, Rudy Gobert, Luka Doncic / Rob Gray-USA TODAY Sports

X-factor that will decide Dallas Mavericks vs. Jazz playoff series: 5. Gobert’s defense

Three-time Defensive Player of the Year Rudy Gobert will be leading the Jazz’s defense in the series. He is one of the league’s best rim protectors and shot blockers, but prevents Utah from going small. They are going to keep Gobert on the floor and use his ability to alter shots at the rim to try to slow down the Mavs' attack.

Dallas is going to space the floor with shooters and try to draw Gobert out on the perimeter. When Luka attacks, the 7’1 big man is going to cheat into the paint leaving someone wide open. Can the Mavericks make those shots or at least create enough secondary action to keep Gobert on his man?

The 7’1 big man leads the league by grabbing 14.7 rebounds per game this season. Dallas struggles on the glass a bit when they play small, so it could be another issue they face against the Stifle Tower.

Rudy Gobert is one of the league’s best defenders, but the LA Clippers limited his impact in last year’s playoffs by going small. Can the Dallas Mavericks repeat the feat? Will Gobert be able to cheat inside and protect the rim because the Mavs are not sinking jumpers? Gobert’s defensive impact is one of the X-factors of the series.