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, Jalen Brunson
Dallas Mavericks, Jalen Brunson / Rob Gray-USA TODAY Sports

X-factor that will decide Dallas Mavericks vs. Jazz playoff series: 3. Jalen Brunson

Brunson had a breakout fourth NBA season that saw his playing time and production increase across the board. The 6’1 guard averaged 16.3 points, 4.8 assists, and 3.9 rebounds in 31.9 minutes per game while shooting 50.2 percent from the field, 37.3 percent on his threes, and 84.0 percent from the foul line as he became an unquestioned starter and the team’s second-leading scorer.

Last season, JB struggled in the playoffs. He shot the ball well in the first three games of the series, but the Mavericks were dominated during his time on the floor as the LA Clippers targeted him defensively. His playing time dipped over the final four games, and he ended up a minus-66 for the series.

The Mavs need Brunson on the floor in the playoffs. Head coach Jason Kidd wants to have two playmakers out there at all times, but JB needs to prove he can impact winning in the postseason. The 25-year-old guard must score 15-plus per game and hold his own on the defensive end of the floor.

Jalen Brunson’s production will be an X-factor in the series. If he cannot stay on the floor, the Dallas Mavericks are going to struggle to keep their offense rolling. Coach Kidd’s defensive scheme should help JB but expect the Jazz to try to attack him in the series.