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Analysis: Jazz turn up the defense to even series in Game 4 win over Mavericks

Jazz turn up the defense to even series in Game 4 win over Mavericks.

SHARE Analysis: Jazz turn up the defense to even series in Game 4 win over Mavericks

Utah Jazz center Rudy Gobert (27) celebrates as the Utah Jazz beat the Dallas Mavericks in Game 4 of their NBA playoff series at Vivint Arena in Salt Lake City on Saturday, April 23, 2022. Utah won 100-99.

Scott G Winterton, Deseret News

The Utah Jazz beat the Dallas Mavericks, 100-99, to even their best-of-seven playoff series, 2-2.

High Notes

  • A perfectly timed lob from Donovan Mitchell to Rudy Gobert and then a solid and perfect defensive possession are what won the game for the Jazz in the final seconds. It was a few seconds that encapsulated what the Jazz can be and are when they are at their best.
    “We went out and executed. We’ve been sitting here for months saying this is what we want to be and we went out there and did it. We did it for one game and we’ve got to do it again.” —Donovan Mitchell
  • Bojan Bogdanovic seems to save his absolute best defense for the playoffs. He did it last year against Kawhi Leonard, he’s done it in the past against LeBron James, and he did it again against both Jalen Brunson and Luka Doncic on Saturday. Picking up guys full court and doing an incredible job pressuring the ball and contesting shots earned Bogdanovic “Bo-gey” chants early in the game. There are so many times during the regular season that lead many to believe that Bogdanovic is average at best defensively or even a negative defender, but I think we have enough evidence to say that when the games really count, Bogdanovic is a great defender and deserves a lot of credit.
    “That was coach’s idea and also I wanted to guard their best players.” —Bojan Bogdanovic
  • But it wasn’t just on the defensive end where Bogdanovic was special. He also made a ton of great decisions on offense, working often in the post as a playmaker while drawing double teams so that he could dish out an assist or get the Jazz’s passing blender whirring.
  • Jordan Clarkson scored a team-high 25 points for the Jazz off the bench and his scoring was timely and smart. He was patient with the ball and completely aware of where the defense was, drawing a foul from the 3-point arc that was critical in the final minutes of the game.
  • Overall, the Jazz’s defense was miles improved from what we’ve seen so far in this series. The reason that they were able to withstand the Mavericks’ shooting flurries and 30 points from Luka Doncic in his series debut was due to their defense being far more intentional and trained in, especially in rotations. While the Mavericks were still able to get up 44 3-point attempts, a lot of those shots were contested or came late in the clock.
    “We defended to win tonight and can’t say enough about Bojan and his competitiveness and I thought that raised everybody’s level.” —Jazz head coach Quin Snyder
  • As expected, Gobert’s defense was great, but his 10 offensive rebounds were incredibly important. Also, Mitchell and Mike Conley were both better on Saturday on the defensive end, and the rest of the Jazz stepped up in key ways, sparked early by the effort of Bogdanovic. Hassan Whiteside provided a huge lift in his minutes off the bench and there was just an overall effort that didn’t seem one-sided or left to just one player.

Low Notes

  • Once again the Jazz started out really slow and cold offensively. There were strange short misses on floaters from Conley, Clarkson and Mitchell and airballed 3’s from Bogdanovic. The Jazz were able to handle the slow start because of their defensive effort, but they are going to need to find a way to come out strong as the series continues if they hope to advance.
  • The Mavericks continued to make runs and knock down a ridiculous number of shots in consecutive fashion, and it always seemed to happen while the Jazz were missing and despite good defensive efforts. The Jazz were making solid defensive rotations and playing hard coming out of halftime, but the Mavericks shot 5-of-5 to start the third quarter to cut the Jazz’s 12-point lead and the game was neck and neck the rest of the way. It’s just hard to beat a team that is making shots like that.

Flat Notes

  • Mitchell had an awkward landing after a rebound in the fourth quarter and he collapsed to the floor. It wasn’t immediately clear what was hurt, but Mitchell came up limping, though he never left the game.
  • On the potential injury front and something to keep an eye on, Bogdanovic was also holding his shoulder at certain points in the game. The teams have a day off Sunday before Game 5 in Dallas on Monday, so hopefully for the Jazz, some rest and treatment will help.
  • Free throws are so important. Missed free throws from Dwight Powell in the closing seconds gave the Jazz the opening they needed to take a late lead, so the Jazz benefitted there. But, the Jazz shot just 61.9% from the free-throw line and missed 16 free throws. That’s a lot of easy points — literally free points — that the Jazz never picked up.