After six straight seasons of early NBA playoff exits, the future of the Utah Jazz is under the microscope following another disappointing post-season campaign.
Dallas stars Luka Doncic and Jalen Brunson each scored 24 points as the Mavericks beat the Jazz 98-96 in game six on Friday to wrap up the first-round series. They will face the top-seeded Phoenix Suns in the second round.
The spotlight in Utah now turns to the futures of All-Star duo Donovan Mitchell and Rudy Gobert.
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Mitchell is in the second year of a five-year contract worth $228 million, while Gobert is also in the second year of a five-year deal worth $287 million.
Former NBA star Matt Barnes was among many high profile nameswho flocked to social media to question the future of the duo after the defeat.
“Either Mitchell or Gobert won’t be in a Jazz uniform next year,” Barnes tweeted. “This duo has maxed out. Don’t be surprised if (coach) Quinn Snyder is gone as well.”
Gobert himself was tight-lipped on how he viewed Utah’s future with Mitchell.
“When I came here nine years ago, my goal was to win a championship here and nothing has changed. A lot of things are out of my control, but I’m always gonna do my best to be the best Rudy I can be,” he said.
Meanwhile, Doncic believes he can score on anyone. To advance to the second round of the playoffs for the first time, he had to trust his teammates.
After previous post-seasons filled with individual highlights, Doncic shared the ball and the Mavericks slipped past the Jazz.
“I like sharing the ball. If they’re going to hit or blitz me, someone is going to be open,” Doncic said.
After Brunson hit a three pointer from the corner, Mike Conley was called for travelling with five seconds remaining, and Brunson made one of two free throws with 4.3 seconds to play.
“Playing with Luka the past couple years, I should expect the ball when I’m not expecting it. The ball found me,” Brunson said of his clutch three.
The Jazz got an open look for Bojan Bogdanovic on the left wing on the final play, but he came up short and the Mavericks moved on.
“Bogey don’t miss a lot of those. My heart stopped. It felt like that shot was 15 seconds in the air,” said Doncic, who had nine rebounds, eight assists, two blocks and two steals.
Spencer Dinwiddie added 19 points, and Dorian Finney-Smith had a playoff career-high 18 points as the Mavericks finally got the “monkey off their back,” as coach Jason Kidd put it.
The Mavericks won in the first round for the first time since winning the 2011 NBA championship.
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