by Harry Porter | I think it is safe to say we can count on Donovan Mitchell to takeover in crunch time. My colleague, Daniel Olsen, offers a deeper dive into Donovan’s clutch factor here. Suffice it to say, the Jazz got a little lucky from downtown by shooting 40% with 22 makes on the afternoon against the Nuggets. Despite Donovan’s late game heroics, the Jazz fell 134-132 to the Nuggets in double overtime. Depending on how seeding games finish, the Jazz could potentially see the Nuggets in the first round of the playoffs for a rematch. In the meantime, the Jazz take on the Dallas Mavericks Monday afternoon and here are three key Jazz Notes to get you up to speed for the game.
Jazz Note #1: Limit Luka’s damage in pick-and-roll action
Personally, I think it’s almost offensive that Luka Doncic was named a candidate for the Kia Most Improved Player of the Year award this season. Luka was dominant in his first season, winning Rookie of the Year honors and averaging over 20 points per game. This year, Luka is averaging 29 points, 9.5 rebounds and is tied for third in the NBA with 8.9 assists per game. Since the NBA resumed regular season play, Doncic has averaged 11.6 assists per game, including a career-high 19 assists against the Bucks on Saturday night. A primary reason for Doncic’s rising assists numbers include his pick-and-roll chemistry with Kristaps Porzingis. The Jazz will need to defend the pick-and-roll through strong defensive rotations as a team to avoid giving the Mavs wide open looks.
Jazz Note #2: Quin Snyder needs to practice load management
The Jazz had a much needed rest day on Sunday after four of their five starters played over 40 minutes in the double-overtime thriller. For a team that relies on their starters for the majority of the scoring, increased minutes translates to tired legs towards the end of the game. Luckily, Doncic, Porzingis and Dorian Finney-Smith all played over 40 minutes in the Mavs’ overtime victory against the Bucks. The issue is that Rick Carlisle trusts the Mavs’ bench and practically plays all four rotation players for at least 20 minutes a night. In a game that went to double overtime, Jordan Clarkson was the only player off the bench who played in at least 20 minutes of action for the Jazz. Synder needs to trust his bench and give the starters breather minutes or they will have heavy legs for the later rounds of the playoffs.
Jazz Note #3: The Jazz need to establish a second scoring option in crunch time
We all know the ball will be in Donovan Mitchell’s hands in crunch time. He proved that during the game against the Nuggets by scoring the last five points in regulation and the first overtime period, and the last three points in the second overtime period. There’s an emerging trend here — the Jazz are relying on Donovan Mitchell to carry the entire team in crunch time. Yes, the Jazz certainly want the ball in Donovan’s hands as the clock winds down, but he clearly needs help. Mike Conley hit some big shots in overtime and Ingles provided some playmaking help as well. No Jazz player has stepped up to provide a second crunch time scoring option. The team will need both Mike Conley and Joe Ingles to step up and be more aggressive looking for their shot at the end of games rather than relying on Donovan to act as the Jazz’s savior.
Overall, I think this will be an exciting matchup for the Jazz. The Mavericks currently sit as the seventh seed and the Jazz sit as the sixth seed in a loaded Western Conference. I’d love to see Snyder look to integrate his bench for a more even scoring distribution for the entire team.
My prediction: The Jazz will bounce back and end their two-game losing streak by beating the Dallas Mavericks 111-103. I’d watch for extended minutes off the bench for Miye Oni and Georges Niang.
The game will be broadcast Monday at 1:00pm MST on NBA TV.