Jazz Credit Trust In One Another For Game One Win

Apr 17, 2022, 12:36 PM
Utah Jazz forward Bojan Bodanovic shoots over Dallas Mavericks guard Jalen Brunson (Photo by Tom Pe...
Utah Jazz forward Bojan Bodanovic shoots over Dallas Mavericks guard Jalen Brunson (Photo by Tom Pennington/Getty Images)
(Photo by Tom Pennington/Getty Images)

SALT LAKE CITY – The Utah Jazz answered one of their biggest questions heading into the playoffs with Saturday’s game one victory over the Dallas Mavericks — could they close out games when it mattered most?

The Jazz had notoriously struggled all season to put teams away after building double-digit leads in the second half of games, allowing their opponents to overcome major second-half deficits 13 times during the regular season.

On Saturday, it nearly happened again after building an 11 point lead midway through the fourth quarter, only to watch that margin trimmed to one with less than three minutes to play.

However, the Jazz stifled the Mavericks over the final two minutes of the game, allowing just two points over Dallas’s final five possessions to escape with a 99-93 victory.

On Sunday, Mike Conley discussed how the Jazz were able to overcome their regular season curse.

“I thought that each guy trusted each other,” Conley said at the Jazz practice, “each guy made plays when it mattered.”

The Jazz were the best team in the NBA through the first three quarters of the season this year, holding more leads heading into the final quarter than any other team in the league.

However, the Jazz finished with the ninth-best record in the NBA, highlighting their inability to close games.

One of the team’s major issues was their isolation-style play on offense that too frequently took over in the final 12 minutes of games. Against Dallas, the Jazz’s no-pass offense was rarely seen in the fourth quarter, and it allowed them to escape with a victory.

“Rudy [Gobert] was huge for us on the defensive last night,” Conley said. Donovan [Mitchell] made big plays, Bojan [Bogdanovic], Royce [O’Neale] obviously with his big shot in the fourth — it was just a cool way to win a game that historically in the last month haven’t been able to do.”

In the final quarter of game one, the Jazz saw all five players that attempted a field goal make a shot, six players recorded rebounds, and three players recorded assists, led by Mitchell who set teammates up for three baskets.

Bogdanovic echoed Conley’s comments about team play leading to the series-opening victory.

“We’ve got to put our ego on the side and trust each other,” Bogdanovic said, “especially in these moments in the playoffs, we are here because we are a good team.”

Bogdanovic was a key example of the Jazz’s selflessness throughout the game when after scoring 20 points in the first half, the forward only took one shot in the third quarter as the Mavericks’ defense adjusted.

That allowed Mitchell to take over in the third quarter where he scored 19 of his 30 second half points, before evolving into a playmaking role in the fourth quarter.

“Everybody’s touching [the ball], everybody’s making plays,” Conley said of the Jazz playoff win. “That allows us to continue to be who we are, continue to move the ball, and continue to play without having to just ISO or take tough shots.”

The Jazz and Mavericks will tip-off game at 6:30 pm MT and can be heard on KSL NewsRadio and The Zone Sports Network. The game will be televised on NBATV, AT&T SportsNet, and FuboTV.


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