Updated Round 1 Predictions for 2022 NBA Playoffs

Tony Gutierrez/Associated Press

The Utah Jazz’s chemistry already seemed volatile before the playoffs started. Toward the end of the regular season, coach Quin Snyder gave the media a 19-minute explanation for the fact that Donovan Mitchell only passed to Rudy Gobert twice per game. And the relationship between those two has been the subject of plenty of anonymously sourced reporting over the years.

The proverbial front-office vultures are already circling around Gobert and Mitchell, should the Jazz make either available for trade this summer. And after the first three games of this series, they’re probably drifting lower.

Without Luka Doncic playing a second, the Dallas Mavericks are scoring 120.1 points per 100 possessions (behind only Golden State and Philadelphia), and the Jazz simply don’t have answers on the roster to slow them down.

For the second postseason in a row, Utah’s perimeter defenders have looked like little more than turnstiles against small lineups, and Mitchell might be the worst offender. Possession after possession, someone gets to the paint, forces Gobert to slide to the rim and creates an open shooter outside.

Against a defense that features one great defender (Gobert) and one decent one (Royce O’Neale) the Luka-less Mavericks have feasted. Jalen Brunson is averaging 32.0 points, 5.0 assists and 2.3 threes. Dinwiddie is adding 19.7 points and 6.7 assists (and a Tom Chambers-esque dunk over Rudy). And the entire team is shooting 40.5 percent from three.

Utah’s talent and early-season dominance (as well as the lack of Luka) are reason enough to think this series will remain competitive, but Utah appears to have too many fissures on and off the floor to move on.

Original Prediction: Mavericks in seven

Updated Prediction: Mavericks in seven

      

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