The Dallas Mavericks took a 2-1 series lead against the Utah Jazz on Thursday night with a 126-118 Game 3 win at Vivint Arena.

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Jalen Brunson paced the Mavericks with 31 points and Donovan Mitchell had a team-high for the Jazz with 32.

3 keys to the Utah Jazz’s Game 3 loss to the Dallas Mavericks
The Mavericks responded spectacularly to Jazz’s physical play and fourth-quarter rally

High notes

  • The Jazz showed a little bit of fight in the second half, cutting what was once a 17-point lead for the Mavericks down to just one point midway through the fourth quarter.
  • There were big moments from a lot of players, with Mitchell finding an offensive rhythm in the second half, Mike Conley making some really timely plays, including the 3-pointer that made it a one-point game and others along the way. But highlight plays from the usual suspects weren’t enough to keep the Jazz on top.
  • Eventually, between foul trouble and the Jazz needing to try anything to get back into the game, Quin Snyder subbed in Eric Paschall and the Jazz played a five-out small lineup in the third quarter and it energized the team, helping them to cut the Mavericks lead. Maybe the most significant part of the switch to a small lineup was how much space the Jazz had, allowing Mitchell, who is great at finishing at the rim, a pretty wide berth. 
  • “You’re just trying to find combinations that are going to compliment one another. In the end we’ve still got to be able to contain the ball.” — Jazz head coach Quin Snyder

Low notes

  • Even though the Jazz found success in that small lineup, they tried it again in the fourth and didn’t have the same success, didn’t attack the rim as much and just didn’t have the same energy as before. Meanwhile the Mavericks weren’t letting up no matter the situation, defensive scheme or score.
  • Foul trouble for both teams completely changed the dynamic of the game. At different points, foul trouble for Dwight Powell, Maxi Kleber and Spencer Dinwiddie for the Mavericks as well as Rudy Gobert, Royce O’Neale and Bojan Bogdanovic for the Jazz forced both teams to change up their rotations a little bit. 
  • That’s kind of what playoff basketball is about though. When the going gets tough and teams have to adjust based on matchups, foul trouble or any other situation, the team that is able to adapt and respond with the most ease is the one that wins, and the Jazz have not been able to do that for two straight games.
  • Offensively, the Jazz gave up a lot of opportunities by just not knowing their surroundings. They had the ball stripped from them and were blocked in transition and lost 50-50 balls because they didn’t know who was around them or how far away a defender was.

Flat notes

  • The Jazz looked outplayed and outmatched for most of the game. More than anything else as the game continued, the tone gave the Mavericks all the confidence they needed to continue to pour on. There’s been very little reason for the Mavericks to think the Jazz are the better team and the Jazz didn’t help that on Thursday.
  • Perimeter defense continues to be a problem for the Jazz. The Mavericks made absolutely no secret of the fact that they were hunting Mitchell on switches and hoping to get their ball-handlers in front of Mitchell, only to then blow straight past him, possession after possession. Sure there were a few instances when Mitchell played good defense, but those few were completely overshadowed by the fact that the Mavericks didn’t see him as a threat and got what they wanted out of that matchup more often than not. Dinwiddie and Brunson both had a pretty easy time getting to the rim and making plays throughout the course of the game on Mitchell, Conley, Royce O’Neale and Jordan Clarkson.
  • “I’m looking at film and I’m seeing them drive in, one-on-one, with a wide open area and we have to — and the other four guys — be connected enough to communicate where the clearest guy to help is and don’t let them shift over, don’t let them drive in, don’t let them get in the middle. There should be layers of defense.” — Mike Conley
  • The Jazz were gifted with another opportunity with Luka Doncic sidelined for a third game in this series and they didn’t capitalize on it. Now, the Mavericks are in such a great position because they have a lead and they know that they can beat the Jazz without Doncic. If they wanted to allow Doncic to sit for Game 4, it probably wouldn’t shake the confidence of that team at all. All they have to do is beat the Jazz two more times and they’ve already been able to win twice without Doncic. The Mavericks are the team with all the momentum and confidence, and that’s not good for Utah.
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