DALLAS, Texas – It appears that the Dallas Mavericks extended their shoot around as they handed the Utah Jazz their second-worst loss in franchise history, 118-68 at the American Airlines Center Wednesday night.
Compared to the last time these two teams faced each other on Nov. 7, there was absolutely no contest as the Mavs were clicking on all cylinders offensively and defensively; shooting nearly 60% from the field and 42% from 3-point.
I’m not sure if the Mavericks were surprisingly playing ‘that’ well, or if Utah just decided to take the night off. It’s a lengthy 82-game season and it happens—sometimes you walk into an arena and it’s just not your night. And if it wasn’t Utah’s night, the Mavs were able to capitalize on it by holding the Jazz to only 22 points in the entire second half. It was an abomination and it was obvious that Utah quit competing.
The high FG percentage was impressive, along with their defensive efficiency; but the biggest takeaway in last night’s game was the fact that the Dallas Mavericks were able to neutralize Donovan Mitchell for the entire game. Not the first quarter, not the first half—the entire game. There were moments that I forgot he was on the floor. Maybe he was the one who took the night off, because the Mavs were able to hold Mitchell to only 10 points for the entire evening. There was absolutely no leadership coming from the other side of the floor, and this is the same Donovan Mitchell who posted 23 points on 52% shooting in their last meeting—and who’s averaging slightly over 21 PPG this season. If the game plan was to offset Mitchell and psychologically remove him from the game—bravo to HC Rick Carlisle.
Improvement Moving Forward
As the Mavs took advantage of Utah’s lack of defensive awareness last night, there were several key moments displayed that they should continue to do to make them more efficient moving forward.
- Pick and Roll between DAJ/DSJ and/or DAJ/LD. So far this season, DeAndre Jordan has played the role of defensive rebounds and occasional put backs for the Mavericks. We haven’t really witnessed him post up on the low block—and some would argue that’s he’s not equipped that particular arsenal at this stage of his career anymore, which is fine. When Jordan is involved in the occasional pick & roll offense, we typically witness him just linger around the basket, waiting for the put back or offensive rebound. Last night, in the first quarter, Jordan rolled hard to the basket after setting a pick for J.J Barea that ultimately resulted in an easy lay-up. Jordan is 6’11’’, 270lbs. The Mavs should be running the hard pick and roll with Jordan rolling to the basket looking for the bounce pass or alley-oop dunk.
- Increase Maxi Kleber and Dorian Finney-Smith’s minutes coming off the bench. Why? Because they deserve it. So far this season, Smith has proven that’s worthy of being in the starting lineup—which is why he was the next guy up when Wesley Matthews was out in their previous win against the bulls. Smith contributed with double-digit scoring in 22 minutes, going perfect from FG and 3-point. And Maxi Kleber has inserted himself as a defensive force this season, coming into last night’s game 3rd in blocks off the bench. He has a +17 plus/minus per 100 possessions on the season. Now, he’s not going to give you double-digit scoring, but he’ll provide all the other grimy work that typically goes unnoticed on the stat sheet. If the Mavs want to continue to improve on their defensive efficiency, give Maxi Kleber more minutes.
Before last night, no team had scored less than 80 points this season. The Mavs simply outplayed Utah for a complete 48 minutes. Everything that could go wrong, did go wrong for Utah; turning garbage time into dumpster fire. To stay up to date on all things Mavericks and more, be sure to subscribe to You Can Argue That Sports and receive notifications of new posts and podcasts by email