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3 things to watch when the Mavericks visit the Utah Jazz

The Mavs grabbed a win at home last night, and look to take that momentum to Salt Lake City.

NBA: Utah Jazz at Dallas Mavericks Kevin Jairaj-USA TODAY Sports

The Dallas Mavericks (3-7) wrap up a tough home-road back to back tonight when they visit Salt Lake City to take on the Utah Jazz (4-6). Slumping of late, the Jazz are trying to fight through a four game losing streak. Their last win? You guessed it, at the AAC against the Mavs on October 28th (113-104).

The Mavericks battled the Washington Wizards at home last night, jumping out ahead early with a 70 point first half, then fighting off a mid second half push from a slumping Wizards team. It’s been tough sledding early in the season for the Mavs. Breaking a six-game losing streak last night was important for this team, as the month ahead will be tough.

This will be the first time this season the Mavericks face an opponent for a second time, so it will be worth paying attention to any familiarity or adjustments either side makes. Here’s what to watch for in tonight’s matchup:

Get DSJ going early

Dennis Smith Jr. is fifth on the team in first quarter scoring, averaging 3.1 points in the opening frame (his lowest average in the four quarters). He shoots a gross 29 percent from three and 39 percent from the floor in the first. It’s a tough slump to push through most nights.

But we also see what it does to DSJ’s game when he gets going early. Last night against the Wizards Smith dropped nine of his 19 points. He was active in transition, he was aggressive getting to the rim, and it opened up his vision the rest of the game. Even if he only scored ten points the rest of the way. It was clear he had a confidence that isn’t always present. Smith put up 27 against the Jazz in their first matchup. Look for him to get going early.

Bench Gem Dorian Finney-Smith

After starting the first four games of the season, as a placeholder while Harrison Barnes rehabbed a preseason injury, Dorian Finney-Smith looks to be getting comfortable in his new role as a primary bench wing. He was a little quiet in the first few games off the bench, but the last couple games he’s been a standout. In the last two home games DFS has posted 30 points, 12 rebounds, three blocks, two steals — shooting 5-of-6 from three, and 11 -of-15 from the floor.

The Mavericks are so thin at the position, DFS is being tasked with holding a huge responsibility for the team, and he needed to make a big jump in his game from previous seasons. It’s early, so let’s not jump the gun. But DFS has been a really pleasant surprise. They’ll definitely need him tonight. He only played 11 minutes in the first matchup, as Rick Carlisle toyed with rotations with Barnes returning the previous game. Look for him to make impact off the bench in Salt Lake.

Big Man Battle

DeAndre Jordan had a monster game facing elite center Rudy Gobert in the previous battle, posting 12 points, 19 rebounds, and nine assists. Utah’s Stifle Tower had a big game as well, laying down a cool 23 point, 16 rebound, three block game.

It’s been a while since the Mavs have had the option to send out a center to go toe-to-toe with the elite at the position. So far DJ’s defensive prowess has been less than ideal, but he’s still providing the Mavericks weapons that haven’t been around for some time. Wednesday night should be another show from these two, and Jordan should come in ready for a repeat performance of the last battle.

How to Watch

Tip is set for 8 CT, and can be watched on FSSW, the Fox Sports Go app, and through NBA League Pass.