Jazz vs. Mavericks Odds
|Time||9:30 p.m. ET|
|Odds via Caesars. Get up-to-the-minute NBA odds here.|
Utah won the first game of the series, but Dallas won Game 2 on the road with a small-ball lineup that shredded the Jazz defense — then replicated the feat in Game 3 in Utah. When Luka Doncic returned for Game 4, Dallas was poised to win another on the road and put a stranglehold on the series, but a perfectly-timed Donovan Mitchell lob to Rudy Gobert stole the game and tied up the series at two game apiece.
Now it’s best of three as we head back to Dallas and it feels like a whole new series with Doncic back on the court. So where does this one go from here?
Can the Jazz Overcome Their Glaring Flaw?
The Jazz had the league’s No. 1 offense in the regular season, but they have been totally befuddled by Dallas’ defensive scheme. The Mavericks swarm the perimeter and were one of the league’s best teams at limiting opponent three-pointers, which has completely muzzled this lethal Jazz attack.
Utah averaged 14.5 made threes on 40.3 attempts per game in the regular season, both top two in the NBA. The Jazz have made only 37 triples through four games this series — 9.25 per game — and it’s not just cold shooting. Utah simply isn’t getting its usual volume and is attempting just 28.5 threes per game.
Even the points the Jazz are getting don’t feel sustainable. Jordan Clarkson has put up big scoring lines, but he can go cold in an instant. Donovan Mitchell hasn’t been consistently attacking the paint and Rudy Gobert had been a complete non-factor on offense until he lived at the free throw line in Game 4. Mike Conley, to put it kindly, has been a disaster.
The Jazz are scoring 105.3 points per game in the series, a far cry from the 113.6 they averaged in the regular season.
And we haven’t even mentioned the problematic defense. Just like last year’s playoffs, Utah’s fraudulent perimeter defense has been exposed. Dallas has successfully spaced the Jazz defense out and forced Gobert and his elite rim protection into a no-win situation where he’s being asked to defend one man at the rim and another shooter in the corner 22 feet away. This is exactly what the Clippers did last year in the playoffs. Utah has also uncharacteristically allowed a heap of free throws.
The Jazz feel like they’ve been figured out, again. However, Utah has found some success crashing the offensive glass and buying more possessions. The Jazz need Clarkson to keep rolling and they need Mitchell and Gobert to use the momentum from that final play to get going.
The flaws in this Utah defense aren’t going anywhere. If the Jazz want to survive and advance, the fixes will have to come on offense.
Mavericks Have the Edge With Luka Doncic Back
It was a very different looking Mavericks effort with Luka Doncic back in the lineup.
Doncic played 34 minutes in his ramp up, and finished with 30 points and 10 rebounds in what felt like an off night. He hit a couple big shots late, but they came on questionable, hero-ball type decisions. The four assists were a real disappointment, too, especially as much as the ball had been zipping around and slicing up the Jazz defense without Doncic.
Doncic looked healthy enough, but did appear a bit rusty and the Mavs offense looked like it needed some time to readjust to his presence. Jalen Brunson still had a big game and he’s been a star this series, but Spencer Dinwiddie struggled to make an impact in his role off the bench. As a whole, the Dallas bench was disappointing.
Still, the Mavs continue to get to the line a surprising amount and have had the advantage from beyond the arc. The Mavericks have taken 51 more 3s than Utah and that makes up for a ton of rebounding differential and cold shooting.
The Mavericks defended well in Game 4, with the exception of the endless fouling. The Mavs may have given the game away on the whistle, allowing a stagnant Jazz offense to get easy points at the line as the Jazz shot 44 free throws. You can bank on Dallas making sure that doesn’t happen again.
The Mavericks didn’t put the series away in Game 4, but they’re still in a great spot. They get home court in a pivotal Game 5 and would have home court for a deciding Game 7. Also, they now have the best player on the court. Dallas appears to have figured out the Jazz team on both ends of the court. But they still have to win two more.
For all the ways the Jazz have failed in this series, they are still in a good spot. The series is tied at two and the Jazz have a chance to ride the momentum from Game 4 into Dallas, steal one on the road and earn a chance to close out the series back home in front of a raucous crowd.
These games have all been close. The four games have been decided by 21 points total. Dallas is +7 for the series, but it’s basically been a dead heat.
I lean Dallas, but with the line rising to -3, it’s tough to play the cover with as close as these games have been. There does appear to be some value on Dallas for the series. The Mavs have been the better team, even without Doncic, and should only play better as they relearn what they do best. It’s also a massive advantage to get Game 7 at home, if necessary.
Dallas is -134 to win the series at FanDuel, an implied 57%. I’d put that at 65% or better, making the series price a good value. Even if the Mavericks lose Game 5, they’ve shown they’re more than capable of going to Utah to win one and the home team has a huge advantage in Game 7.
For this game, I’m going another direction and playing a trend I noticed in Game 4. The return of Doncic slowed this series to a crawl. Game 3 saw a pace of 95.6 and a scoring explosion with 244 points that was punctuated by a huge scoring stretch when both teams went small.
The pace plummeted to 89.7 in Game 4 and the game finished with only 199 points — it would’ve been far lower if not for all the free throws. We’ve seen games of 192, 214, and 199 points in this series and the pace will stay down with Doncic back. Utah has struggled to score throughout and there are no obvious answers.
I lean Dallas, but I’ll play the under 213, and I’ll take a few bites of the Mavs series price too.
Pick: Under 213 | Mavericks to win the series (-134)