The Mavericks Held Off The Jazz To Win Their First Playoff Series Since 2011

The Dallas Mavericks went more than a decade without a playoff series win after winning the NBA title in 2011. On Thursday evening, that drought came to an end, with Luka Doncic and company winning a back-and-forth Game 6 battle against the Utah Jazz to secure a 4-2 series victory to advance and face the Phoenix Suns in round two.

At the outset, neither team had much going on the offensive end. Utah led 21-15 after 12 minutes, with both teams shooting less than 40 percent and Dallas scoring only one point in almost four minutes to close the first quarter. The lone bright spot on offense was the play of Donovan Mitchell, who scored nine points on solid efficiency in the early going.

Most of the second quarter was similar in nature, but Utah put together a run late in the half. The Jazz closed the second quarter on an 18-5 run, making their final five shots. Mitchell was in the middle of the push, with Utah producing improved ball and player movement.

Dallas shot 3-of-18 from three-point range and only 39 percent overall in the first half. At the same time, the Jazz knocked down 65 percent of shots, with only a single turnover, in the second period. After halftime, though, things would shift, as Dallas used an 8-0 run to maintain contact. The Mavericks did damage on both ends of the floor, with Luka Doncic flowing in positive fashion.

All told, the Mavericks made 8-of-12 from three-point range in the third, and Dallas pushed its lead to eight early in the fourth quarter. However, Utah kept coming and tied the game with less than five minutes remaining after an 8-0 run.

That set up potential fireworks down the stretch, with Doncic connecting on a huge triple to give Dallas a four-point lead. Moments later, the game was knotted again after a kick-out three-pointer by Bojan Bogdanovic.

However, the tie lasted for only one possession before Jalen Brunson connected on a three-pointer to give Dallas the advantage. Utah cut the margin back to 97-96 with less than 40 seconds remaining on a bucket from Rudy Gobert but, despite a miss from Doncic on the other end, the Jazz were unable to close the gap when Mike Conley committed a traveling violation with five seconds remaining.

Brunson split a pair of free throws on the other end, keeping the door open for the Jazz. In fact, Utah created an exceptionally open look for the win at the buzzer, but Bogdanovic’s attempt went begging.

In what was a low-scoring affair, it was Utah’s offense that wasn’t quite enough. The Jazz scored fewer than 1.1 points per possession in the loss, shooting only 9-of-35 from beyond the three-point arc. The loss, and another early playoff exit, will certainly produce questions for the future of Utah’s core, and the Jazz squandered an opportunity against a Mavericks team that operated without Doncic early in the series.

For Dallas, this was not only a landmark series win but also a potential sign that the Mavericks are dangerous against the Suns in the second round. The Mavericks executed well under Jason Kidd, and the perimeter duo of Doncic (when he returned from injury) and Brunson was lights-out. Doncic finished with 24 points, nine rebounds, and assists, with Brunson adding 24 points, and Dorian Finney-Smith producing a double-double with 18 points and 10 rebounds.

The Western Conference Semifinal matchup between the Mavericks and Suns will not begin until Monday in Phoenix. That allows both teams to get healthy and rested in advance of Game 1, with all eyes on whether Doncic and company can upset the league’s best team under the brightest lights.