The Mavs sealed a playoffs spot with a crucial win over their direct competitors Jazz tonight at the Vivint Smart Home Arena, Salt Lake City. The game was billed as a decider for the final 2 playoffs spot and it did just that. The Mavs have now qualified for the playoffs when they looked like they would miss it just a couple of weeks ago. They will finish 7th in the worst case scenario now. The Jazz meanwhile needed to win badly to catch up with the Mavs. The Mavs are now 42-39 and are 7th in the Western Conference, just half a game behind the 6th placed Grizzlies. The Jazz has fallen out of the playoffs spots with this loss as the Rockets recorded a win over the T-Wolves earlier tonight. The Jazz are now 40-41, tied for the final playoffs spot with the Rockets. The final game will be a must-win for either team, but the Rockets hold the tie-breaker over the Jazz.
Gordon Hayward once again led the Jazz with 26 points, 6 rebounds, and 4 assists. Shelvin Mack supported him with 18 points and 2 assists. All the other players had a bad game in a must win situation for the Jazz tonight. Derrick Favors added 11 points, 3 rebounds and a block off the bench. Trey Lyles ended the game with 9 points and 6 rebounds. Trevor Booker added 9 points, 2 rebounds and 2 assists off the bench. Joe Ingles also had 9 points, 2 rebounds and 2 assists off the bench. Rodney Hood ended the game with 6 points, 4 rebounds, and 3 assists.
Deron Williams, returning from an injury led the Mavs in a vital game with 23 points, 4 rebounds and 6 assists. Veteran Dirk Nowitzki used all his experience as he came through for the Mavs with 22 points, 11 rebounds and 3 assists. Wesley Matthews played a great foil to Williams and Nowitzki with 20 points, 2 rebounds and an assist. Raymond Felton added 10 points and 4 rebounds off the bench. Salah Mejri added 7 points and 3 rebounds off the bench. Zaza Pachulia had a good defensive game as he added 5 points, 9 rebounds and 3 assists. J.J.Barea added 5 points, 5 rebounds and 4 assists.
The Mavs started off well as they took the first quarter 22-20, thanks to a great 10-4 run at the closing stages of the quarter. The 2nd quarter was another close affair. The Mavs opened with a 5-0 run to extend their lead to 6. But the Jazz made baskets in regular intervals and tied it up at 44-44 with a 14-7 run towards the end.Hayward and Booker combined for 10 points during this run. But the Mavs made a 6-2 run at the end to take the quarter, 28-26 and went into the break leading, 50-46. Matthews opened the 3rd with a huge 3 and the Mavs led by 7. They then made a 6-0 run to extend their lead to 11 with Nowitzki making 2 of his trademark fadeaway 3s. But the Jazz fought back again, making a 12-3 run to cut the deficit to just 2. Booker and Mack combined for 8 of these points. But the Mavs once again closed the quarter with a strong run, 5-0 this time with a Matthews 3. They took the 3rd, 21-18 and went into the final quarter leading, 71-64. The Mavs opened the 4th with a 6-2 run to extend the lead to 11 again. They followed it up with another run of 7-2 to establish a commanding 15 point lead at 86-71 with 5 minutes left in the game. Matthews and Mejri scored all the 7 points during this run. The Jazz would not give up just yet as they got back with a 9-2 run with Mack scoring 7 points. Matthews once again made a huge 3 to extend the Mavs lead to 9 with 2 minutes to go. The Jazz kept missing vital 3s and the Mavs closed out the quarter, 30-28 and took the vital win. They closed out the game with Felton making 3 of his 4 free throws. The Mavs took a vital 101-91 win to clinch yet another playoffs spot.
The Mavs next face the Spurs at home in their final game of the regular season on Wednesday. The Jazz meanwhile face the Lakers in a must win game away that also happens to be Kobe Bryant’s last bow, but their destiny is not in their hands as they will need the Kings to beat the Rockets to make it to the playoffs.