The clinching Game 6 against the Utah Jazz was no easy feat, though. The Jazz led 53-41 after the first half, and looked like they had what it took to force a Game 7 in Dallas. Doncic and the Mavericks had other plans, however, as they went on a 36-19 tear in the third quarter. They put on an entertaining show in that pivotal period and did a little bit of everything to claw their way back into the game.
Jalen Brunson was in his bag as he made Rudy Gobert look like he was walking on quicksand.
Spencer Dinwiddie was ready to answer the call when he needed to make a big three-pointer.
Doncic got in on the action too, drilling a stepback three before copying a little baby’s crying. That may have been a little unnecessary but oh well, it’s the playoffs.
Advancing to the second round is big for the Mavericks because they didn’t have Doncic available for their first two games, yet still split the two games played in Dallas. Brunson had a lot to do with that, as he’s broken out in the playoffs and scored at least 23 points in all six games, with his career-high of 41 points coming in their crucial Game 2 victory.
The Jazz made it tough, as they had their own run midway through the fourth quarter to tie the game at 88 with 4:20 left in the game. Dorian Finney-Smith was fortunately able to make a tough three to quiet the Utah crowd after that big moment.
Doncic’s stepback over Rudy Gobert to make it 94-90 helped give the Mavs enough of a cushion, and came in important as Bogdan Bogdanovic hit a big three to tie it again at 94-94 with 2:15 left. However, Brunson again had an answer with a three in the next possession to restore a 97-94 advantage. Gobert made it a one-point game with 35 seconds left, and the Jazz had a chance to go for a game-winner, but Mike Conley travelled when he drove into the paint.
Following that possession, Brunson missed his first free throw after getting fouled, which gave the Jazz a chance to win the game with their last shot thanks to keeping the scoreline at 98-96. Utah ran a perfect play from the timeout, which led to Bogdanovic having as open a three-point attempt as he’ll ever get in his career. Unfortunately for the Jazz, the Croatian’s shot hit the iron.
Getting some extra rest will do the Mavericks good, as they had to expend a lot of energy thanks to them switching to a small-ball lineup. Jason Kidd deserves credit for the adjustment he made midway through the series, when he started to regularly field a lineup that included Doncic, Brunson, Dinwiddie, Finney-Smith, and Reggie Bullock. That helped limit Gobert’s effectiveness, as he was forced to spend a lot of time on the perimeter.
Doncic finished with 24 points, nine rebounds, eight assists, two blocks and two steals, while Brunson had 24 points, three rebounds, two assists, and two steals. Finney-Smith ended the game with 18 points, 10 rebounds and five assists, and Dinwiddie had 19 points off the bench.
A much tougher test awaits the Mavericks now, as they are set to face the Phoenix Suns in the conference semifinals after the Suns dispatched the New Orleans Pelicans in Game 6.