The Dallas Mavericks left Salt Lake City on Saturday evening with their first-round playoff series against the Utah Jazz tied at two games apiece. Before the season, if you would have told Mavs head coach Jason Kidd that his team would have homecourt and the series could be tied at two after Luka Doncic missed the first three games, he would take it, but Dallas let one slip away in Game 4.
The Mavericks had a chance to land the knockout blow by going up 3-1 in the series with two wins in Utah, but they could not find their shots on Saturday afternoon. Save for a hot third quarter, Dallas connected on just 32.2 percent from the field and 20.6 percent on their threes. They also committed 29 fouls, which sent the Jazz to the free-throw line 42 times. It was a poor recipe for success in Luka’s return, and the Mavs still only lost by one.
The Mavs and Jazz are now facing a best two out of three to see who advances to the second round and gets a likely date with the top-seeded Suns. Doncic showed no rust and will be elite. There are no questions about the contributions Dallas will receive from Jalen Brunson, Dorian Finney-Smith, and Reggie Bullock, but their bench is the key to winning the series. They need Maxi Kleber and Spencer Dinwiddie producing to advance.
Spencer Dinwiddie is the key to Dallas Mavericks defeating the Utah Jazz in the playoffs
Kleber plays an important role because he can defend Rudy Gobert and space the floor. The 6’10 forward fouling out in just 18 minutes hurt the Mavs in Game 4, especially when he was not available for nearly all of the clutch minutes on Saturday afternoon. Dallas needs Kleber to step up moving forward, but Dinwiddie will determine which team wins the series.
The 6’5 guard had a rough showing in Game 4. He was two of nine from the field and scored just five points in 24 minutes of action. The Jazz dominated his time on the floor, and Dinwiddie missed the game-winning shot as time expired.
Here are three reasons why Spencer Dinwiddie is the key to the Dallas Mavericks defeating the Utah Jazz and advancing to the second round of the playoffs for the first time since 2011.