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Four-Pointer: Previewing the Utah Jazz

Utah is still rebuilding, but they have enough young talent to surprise teams that take them lightly.

Russ Isabella-USA TODAY Sports

What have the Jazz done lately?

Utah is sitting in the basement of the Western Conference with a 16-32 record, but that's a bit deceptive. Most of those losses occurred at the beginning of the season, when they were playing without Trey Burke. Utah is 1-11 without Burke, the No. 9 pick in the 2013 draft, and 15-21 with him.

While his stats aren't all that great, he's a legitimate floor general who can run the offense and get guys open shots without turning it over. He is averaging 13 points, 6 assists and 3 bounds a game and his speed could be a major problem for Jose Calderon, especially in transition.

The good news is that, like most young teams, the Jazz have been far tougher at home than on the road. They've beaten Washington, Denver and Oklahoma City (!) in Salt Lake, but their only road win since the start of the new year came at Detroit.

What Utah player might be in for a big game?

The Mavs might have caught another break on the injury front, as Derrick Favors has missed the last three games with a hip injury. The Jazz are 0-6 on the season without him in the line-up and there's currently no news as to whether he will be able to play on Friday.

Never fear, though, as Dallas is probably still at a disadvantage in the paint. Enes Kanter, the No. 3 pick in the 2011 draft, has seen his minutes increase with Favors out. A bull in a china shop at 6'11 250, he broke Dirk Nowitzki's scoring record at the Nike Hoop Summit in 2010.

In his last three games, Kanter put up 15/7 against the Warriors, 23/14 against the Clippers and 10/3 against the Raptors. I'd expect a performance more in line with what he did against Los Angeles, if only because the Mavs don't exactly have the stoutest post defenders in the world.

What's the biggest match-up to watch?

The Jazz have absolutely no one who can match-up with Dirk Nowitzki, which makes them pretty much like every other team in the NBA. That's why I'll stick with the perimeter, where they can throw Alec Burks, their 6th man and the No. 12 pick in 2011, on Monta Ellis.

At 6'6 205, Burks is the kind of long and athletic SG who can give Monta trouble on both ends of the floor. However, like most young guards, he can have trouble with team defense and understanding his responsibilities off-the-ball, so expect to see Monta in a lot of two-man game situations.

Burks is averaging 13 points, 3 bounds and 3 assists on 44% shooting. The Jazz close out a lot of games with the Burke & Burks back-court; unfortunately, with Shawn Marion tied up against Gordon Hayward, the Mavs are going to need Jose Calderon to guard somebody.

What is the key for the Mavs to defeat the Jazz?

Score a lot of points and put Utah away early. The one thing you don't want to do is give a young team on the road any hope they can steal the game in the final minutes. If Dallas can get out to a 10-15 point lead in the first half and extend that at the start of the 3Q, the Jazz might pack it in for the night.

They are the worst rated defense in the NBA, with a defensive rating of 109.8 per 100 possessions, so I guess you can expect a lot of points to be scored on Friday. If the Mavs three-point shooters are on early, they may be able to bury the Jazz. Of course, with Dallas this season, I'm not sure it's even possible for a lead to be "safe".