It what could prove to be the game which decides home court for the 4-5 seed playoff match up, the Dallas Mavericks play host to the Utah Jazz Sunday evening. The home team has won the prior three match ups, with Utah winning games at home on Christmas and just after All-Star break. The Mavericks beat them less than a week and a half later at home.
The Mavericks are currently 2.5 point favorites over Utah, which is pretty close to a toss up. One has to think the injuries to Utah play a factor, along their current three game skid.
Here’s some pre-game considerations to noodle on prior to the contest.
Can either team play defense?
The Jazz have given up an average of 115 points over their last three losses, all in a row. The Mavericks have given up 108 points or more in every game but the Rockets win after they held the Boston Celtics to 92 points on March 13th.
Interestingly, both teams are tied for eighth in the NBA in defensive rating for the year, but both teams have taken a slide in recent weeks as well. The Mavericks in particular have struggled to contain offenses. as we’ve all watched. The Jazz are missing a few key rotation guys though, so perhaps Dallas can find a means to frustrate Donovan Mitchell and stymie everything else.
Hitting some stinkin’ threes
Many people hopefully missed the brick laying that went on Friday night against the Timberwolves on the road. Outside of Luka Doncic, regular rotation guys went 4 of 31 from three, and really if we back out the Maxi Kleber three that finally fell in super garbage time, non-Luka rotation guys shot 3 of 30 from three point range. 10%! That’s tremendously awful.
On the other hand, maybe the guys all just got a bad shooting night out of the way all in one night. If the Jazz are to be who Dallas plays in the playoffs, hitting threes is what will lead them past Utah.
Who will guard Donovan Mitchell primarily?
This could just be a me-specific thing, but I very much want Reggie Bullock on Mitchell. Dorian Finney-Smith, a potential All-Defensive team candidate, has a long history of getting waxed by smaller guards who can and like rise up and fire away on threes. That describes Donovan Mitchell quite well. I’m sure DFS will have some time on him, but I’ve loved how Bullock’s guarded all year long and that allows Finney-Smith to roam and cause havoc elsewhere.
How to watch
The Mavericks WERE going to play on NBAtv, but that game got bumped. Now they’re on locally only on Bally Sports Southwest and play at the delightful evening time of 6:30 pm.
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