Dallas suffered a heartbreaking two point loss at the hands of Philadelphia in their last game. Ben Simmons and Joel Embiid proved too much despite 25 points from Harrison Barnes and an extra 19 points from Wesley Matthews. The play of rookie Dennis Smith Jr. has also been a highlight of their season as the team looks to build around him. While the playoffs are an unlikely proposition for the Mavericks, they still have the return of guard Seth Curry to look forward to and the form of fellow young guard Yogi Ferrell has also been promising.
The Jazz may have lost Gordon Hayward but Quin Snyder’s men have made up for it through the addition of Ricky Rubio and young stud Donovan Mitchell. Like all of Snyder’s teams they’ve been super solid defensively and the play of Mitchell has helped ease the offensive load off of Rodney Hood. The defensive partnership of Rubio and Rudy Gobert has worked wonders. Utah’s 15 point win against a young Lakers squad was indicative of how their season has gone so far, strong defensively, with glimpses of offensive brilliance.
Three keys to the game
Breaking down Utah’s defense – The Mavericks are going to have a hard task cracking through a hearty defense like the Jazz’s. They’re going to have to get the game on their own terms and force Utah into a shootout. If they’re forced to slow down themselves then they’ll play right into Utah’s hands.
Forcing Gobert out of the paint – Dirk Nowitzki might be the perfect antidote to the stifling defense of Rudy Gobert. His ability to knock down the three should play right into Dallas’ hands. If he and the whole team can knock down their perimeter shots early it’ll help force Gobert out of his comfort zone.
Generating offense – Dallas should have no problem generating offense as they have a pretty deep squad full of offensive talent. The Jazz, meanwhile, are a team full of stalwarts; none who really standout as stars offensively. Hood and Mitchell will bear a brunt of the load in generating the offense.
Matchup to watch
Dirk Nowitzki vs Rudy Gobert – It’s a clash of styles as these two match up with each other. Nowitzki was never a great defender and with age has certainly lost a step, while Gobert’s offense game is still limited to shots in around 14 feet. If Gobert can use his physicality to dominate Nowitzki then the German superstar is going to have a tough night ahead of him.
Dallas Mavericks projected starting lineup
PG – Dennis Smith Jr. | SG – Wesley Matthews | SF – Harrison Barnes | PF – Nerlens Noel | C –Dirk Nowitzki
Utah Jazz projected starting lineup
PG – Ricky Rubio | SG – Rodney Hood | SF – Joe Ingles | PF – Derrick Favors | C – Rudy Gobert
Barnes is starting to get into a rhythm after a solid outing against the Lakers. Look for him to take advantage of Joe Ingles using his athleticism to post a big box score. He’ll be hoping for a performance something around the realms of 25 points, 5 rebounds and 5 assists.
Dallas get a +7.5 point head start in this one, and on recent form could cover the line here. Utah are still likely to win, but given the Mavericks’ improved form, the game should be close.
The Jazz continue to impress in the post-Hayward era, downing the Mavericks 96-90.
Catch this one on league pass and your local channel providers. Tip-off is at 9 pm ET at Vivint Smart Home Arena.
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