The Dallas Mavericks, despite being without superstar Luka Doncic so far in their first-round playoff series due to a calf strain, have managed to stay competitive with the Utah Jazz – and more.

After losing a hard-fought Game 1, Jalen Brunson exploded to help Dallas lead the series 2-1.

And what about Luka in Game 4 on Saturday?

Jason Kidd on Luka Doncic’s Game 4 hopes:

“Optimistic? That’s a good word,” Utah coach Jason Kidd said Friday. “He’s going in the right direction.

It would help.

In three games played against the Jazz in the regular season, Doncic averaged 30 points, 11 rebounds and 7.7 assists per game while shooting 45.6% from the field, 44.4% from deep and 80 % from the free throw. The Mavs were 2-1 against the Jazz in those games.

As good as Brunson and Spencer Dinwiddie have penetrated the Utah defense and gotten open looks for their teammates, the addition of Doncic into the mix only increases the Mavs’ chances of a series win.

When you add Maxi Kleber’s recent confidence boost (he scored 25 points on 8 of 11 shooting from deep in Game 2) and Dorian Finney-Smith’s continued stellar defense against jazz star Donovan Mitchell, everything seems to be going well. in a favorable direction for the Mavericks.

That being said, Doncic will now have to do something he has never done in his four-year career so far if the Mavs are to win their first playoff series since the 2011 NBA Finals: win a game in the ‘Utah.

Before this week… The Mavs have only dominated the Jazz in Utah once in the past six years, and that happened in January 2020 as Tim Hardaway Jr. led the way with Doncic in due to an ankle injury.

That has now changed. Maybe Luka is also about to fuel more changes.