DALLAS (ABC4 Sports) – With Mavericks star Luka Doncic relegated to the bench, the Utah Jazz came into Dallas and stole home court advantage.
Bojan Bogdanovic put Utah ahead to stay just before halftime, Donovan Michell got aggressive in the second half and the only made shot by Royce O’Neale was a huge one late for the Jazz, who won Game 1 of the best-of-seven series, 99-93.
Mitchell scored 30 of his 32 points after the break, Bogdanovic finished with 26 and the Jazz opened the playoffs with a 99-93 victory Saturday over the Mavericks, who had cut an 11-point deficit to one before O’Neale’s 3-pointer.
“The fact he didn’t hesitate and shot that ball, that’s a mindset, and I think it’s a mindset that our team has right now,” Jazz coach Quin Snyder said.
The fourth-seeded Mavs, starting the playoffs at home for the first time since their NBA title season 11 years ago, sorely missed their 23-year-old superstar even though Jalen Brunson had 24 points and Spencer Dinwiddie 22. Doncic strained his left calf six days earlier in the regular-season finale. Coach Jason Kidd has said only that he is day to day.
Game 2 in the best-of-seven series is Monday night in Dallas.
Bogdanovic had Utah’s only two 3-pointers before halftime, in a 13-2 run over the final 3 1/2 minutes that put the Jazz ahead to stay. Mitchell, who always seems to step up in the postseason, was 1-of-9 shooting before coming alive after the break.
“I came out a little too passive (early), and in the same respect, Bojan was rolling,” Mitchell said. “I didn’t feel like I was out of control, Bojan had it going. The second half, I came out in attack mode.”
With Doncic in a black hoodie on the bench, the Mavericks got within 92-91 on a 3-pointer by Maxi Kleber with 2:12 left. After Mitchell missed, the Mavs had the chance to take their first lead in the second half, but Kleber missed badly on another long-range shot.
O’Neale made the 3-pointer on the same possession he missed inside before later getting a pass from Mitchell and beating the shot clock from the right corner. Utah finished with a 20-7 edge in second-chance points.
“I had in my head I was going to shoot anyway,” said O’Neale, when asked about the shot clock running down.
Brunson, the starting point guard with Doncic out, was 9 of 24 with seven rebounds and five assists.
“We missed a lot of easy looks, a lot of great looks. We just missed them,” Brunson said. “We’re just playing basketball. There’s no telling who’s shooting what and where. Just kind of put ourselves in position to make plays for one another. Coach Kidd gives us that ability and that confidence.”
The Jazz, second in the NBA with 14.5 made 3-pointers a game, were 7 of 22 and missed their first nine shots from beyond the arc until Bogdanovic hit with 3:10 left in the second quarter. He also had their only other 3 before halftime, taking a pass from Mitchell with 2.2 seconds left for a 45-43 lead.
“I think the halftime conversation (with Mitchell) was really the play that he made at the end of the second quarter,” Snyder said. “Playing to our strengths. Bojan came up and peeled out, and Donovan found him. I thought how we finished the second quarter was a big part of the game.”
Rudy Gobert missed his only shot from the field, but made five free throws and grabbed 17 rebounds. Utah was called for a technical foul early in the fourth quarter for having six men on the court. Brunson missed the free throw for Dallas. It appeared that Mitchell was coming back in the game for Jordan Clarkson, who was running toward the sideline but was apparently still on the court when the ball was inbounded.