Today the Dallas Mavericks head out to Salt Lake City to face off against the Utah Jazz. The Jazz are 11-1 since the start of the new year, so this is going to be a tough match up for the Mavericks. After acquiring Jordan Clarkson from the Cavs, the Jazz have been on a smoking hot streak that currently has them as the second seed in the West. Let’s take a look at a couple of things Dallas can do to slow them down tonight.
Make them shoot tough shots
In the month of January, the Jazz are currently shooting 46.5 percent on 81.3 field goals per game. Utah leads the league in three-point field goal percentage this year at 38.9 percent on 33 attempts per game.
The Jazz are incredibly efficient and effective from the outside, so don’t expect to see too much of that 2-3 zone Rick Carlisle likes to throw out from time to time. This offseason we saw Utah make several moves to add depth to their team while also upgrading in certain positions with the addition of Mike Conley, a well-respected veteran point guard and Bojan Bogdanovic who’s shooting 45.4 percent from the field and averaging 21 points per game. Utah’s starting lineup has included Donovan Mitchell, Royce O’Neal, Bogdanovic, Joe Ingles, and Rudy Gobert.
Surrounding Mitchell with shooters and a 7”1 center who is second in the league in field goal percentage (68.3 percent) allows Utah to be quite productive on the offensive end, so Dallas will need to strategically choose their defensive match ups to minimize Utah’s offensive production.
Navigating the Stifle Tower
Utah’s two-time Defensive Player of the Year manages to always make things difficult for Dallas when these two teams face off. He’s currently averaging 2 blocks and 14.5 rebounds per game.
With Gobert’s 7”9 wingspan and his incredible athleticism, he has the ability to sag off from whoever he’s guarding to make sure no one gets an easy look in the paint. We’re all used to seeing Luka use the high pick and roll with Dwight Powell to make the defender choose who he wants to guard, so Powell’s absence could stand out. Look for Luka to set up some switches to allow him to get a mismatch on Gobert and force him to decide whether or not he would prefer to pick up a foul or become the newest member of the step-back-drained-in-your-face club.
Having Porzingis back will be a huge help with rebounding and on the defensive end, considering Gobert is fifth in the league in offensive rebounds per game at 3.7. Expect to see Boban Marjanovic get some quality minutes tonight to match Utah’s interior presence.
Seize the opportunity in the first half
Dallas averages 29.8 and 29.2 points in the first and second quarter, respectively. In terms of points scored per quarter, they’re ranked second in the first quarter and sixth in the second quarter. Utah is currently ranked 16th in the first quarter and 26th in the second quarter.
After putting up 78 points in the first half against the Blazers this past Thursday, Dallas showed their ability to come out hot. Carlisle often says he likes to keep teams from scoring 25 points in each quarter, and with Utah struggling to put up points in the first half, Dallas has the opportunity to build an early lead if they can manage to hold strong on the defensive end.
As mentioned before, the Jazz currently hold the second seed and have been white hot since the start of the new year, so this will no doubt be a tough game for the Mavericks. This will be Dallas’ second straight away game, and with their success on the road this year and the recent return of the Unicorn, hopefully Dallas can come out with a win.
How to watch
It’s an early tip-off today in Salt Lake City at 4:00 pm central time and will be broadcast on Fox Sports Southwest or NBA League Pass.