Jazz, Mavericks Features Battle Of Elite Sixth Men

Apr 13, 2022, 3:22 PM
Jordan Clarkson - Utah Jazz...
Jordan Clarkson #00 of the Utah Jazz drives to the basket past Theo Pinson #1 of the Dallas Mavericks during the first half of their game at the Vivint Smart Home Arena on December 25, 2021 in Salt Lake City, Utah. (Photo by Chris Gardner/Getty Images)
(Photo by Chris Gardner/Getty Images)

SALT LAKE CITY – While star players traditionally decide the outcome of a playoff series, there will be no lack of bench power when Utah Jazz meet the Dallas Mavericks in the opening round of the Western Conference playoffs.

The matchup will feature two of the best reserve guards in the NBA, reigning Sixth Man of the Year Jordan Clarkson and the resurging Spencer Dinwiddie.

Clarkson led all second-unit players in plus-minus this season as the Jazz were 388 points better than their opponent with the high-scoring guard on the court this season.

Dinwiddie meanwhile saw his season rebound dramatically after landing with the Mavericks at the trade deadline.

The veteran guard averaged 15.8 points, 3.9 assists, and 3.1 rebounds while shooting 50 percent from the floor and 40 percent from the three-point line in 23 appearances with the Mavericks.

But despite the unusual amount of firepower that will come off each team’s bench the Jazz’s Clarkson said he’s not focused on outdueling Dinwiddie.

“I don’t really compare myself to that,” Clarkson acknowledged. “Everybody’s role is different, coming off the bench I play 12 minutes straight sometimes, I don’t think a lot of other bench guys do that.”

Not only are Clarkson and Dinwiddie’s roles different for their teams, the Mavericks may need to thrust their traditional sixth man into the starting lineup.

With Luka Doncic’s left calf injury putting his availability in doubt, Dinwiddie could the Dallas’s best option to replace the superstar guard in the starting five.

On Tuesday, Jazz guard Donovan Mitchell pointed out that the Mavericks may turn to Dinwiddie to carry a bigger offensive load.

“They also have a lot of guys that can fill [Doncic’s] role,” Mitchell said, “maybe not to the full extent, but can do that. They’ve got Jalen Brunson, and [Spencer] Dinwiddie at the forefront.”

Dinwiddie was a key piece to the Mavericks’ late-season surge that saw them overtake the Jazz in the standings as Dallas finished the season 18-5 with the Washinton Wizards transplant in the lineup.

Clarkson said he recognized the Mavericks shift after Dinwiddie arrived.

“I think he was a perfect fit for them,” the Jazz guard noted. “He’s part of the game plan to slow him down — they’re a really good team.”

The Jazz and Mavericks are set to open the NBA Playoffs on Saturday at 11 am MT in Dallas at the American Airlines Center.

The game can be heard on KSL NewsRadio and The Zone Sports Network. The series opener will be televised on ESPN, AT&T SportsNet, and FuboTV.

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