The Jazz, sitting at 19-33, are the kind of team the Mavericks (35-19) have had consistent success against this season. Dallas is 22-4 against teams with below .500 records in 2014-2015. But with three starters injured, the Mavs will probably feel fortunate to get to All-Star weekend with another win tonight.
Defensive stalwart Tyson Chandler is out with an injured ankle and shooting guard Monta Ellis is doubtful with a hurt hip. Point guard Rajon Rondo remains sidelined by facial injuries from a collision with teammate Richard Jefferson in Orlando.
Which matchup is worth watching?
Gordon Hayward vs. Chandler Parsons
It's a bit unfair to Parsons that he's been so frequently compared to Hayward this season. Gordon was taken ninth overall in the 2010 draft and Parsons was taken 38th a year later. But thanks to Daryl Morey's ambitious offseason plans, the two small forwards reached free agency this past summer and received similar contracts as restricted free agents. Both are now making about $14 million this season although Hayward is considered the superior player. He's a better scorer, a more skilled playmaker and the featured player on his team.
But Parsons has been just as efficient shooting the ball this season in a less prominent role. He showed off some playmaking abilities of his own in the recent overtime victory against Portland, one of his best overall game as a Maverick. He'll need to help slow down Hayward tonight and have another strong performance with Chandler out and Ellis questionable.
Are any other Mavericks due for a big game?
While Dallas was trounced by the Clippers Monday, Dirk Nowitzki scored 18 points on an efficient seven of 11 shooting night. His production has been inconsistent lately but in two previous games against the Jazz this season Dirk averaged 24 points on 64.5 percent shooting along with 6.5 rebounds. If there's any matchup this season where Dallas can expect a big game from its franchise player, it's this one.
What's new with the Jazz?
After a mostly unimpressive rookie season, Utah center Rudy Gobert has turned into one of the league's best rim protectors as a sophomore. In the two teams' last meeting on Nov. 7--a Dallas road blowout--Gobert blocked four shots to go along with 8 points on four field goal attempts. His production hasn't dropped off since then. On the season, he's averaging 7 points, 7 rebounds and 2 blocks per game. While he's continued to come off the bench for the Jazz, he could form a solid core for the team along with Hayward and rookie guard Dante Exum.
What do the Mavs need to do to get the win?
Reserve big men like Charlie Villanueva, Greg Smith, Al-Farouq Aminu and--should he be cleared to play after getting a 10-day contract--Bernard James will have to put in solid work as a group protecting the paint and collecting rebounds. Without Chandler for most of Monday night, Dallas got eaten alive on the boards by the Clippers' DeAndre Jordan. Utah's frontcourt rotation includes a mix of size, length and athleticism between Gobert, Enes Kanter and Derrick Favors. Parsons will have the marquee matchup against Hayward but the Dallas center rotation will have to be productive if the Mavs are going to move to 3-0 against Utah on the season.
Tipoff is 7:30 p.m. Central on FSSW.