The Dallas Mavericks are finally about to get some rest.
After a brutal last month and a half, the All-Star Break will (or should, at least) provide ten days of must needed convalescence for a tired and somewhat battered bunch. The Mavs responded to a humiliating loss to the rival Spurs Friday with one of their best wins of season the following night in Memphis, who currently hold the 5th seed in the West. After Memphis lost Monday to Portland, the Mavs can inch closer to potentially overtaking them with a win against Utah.
What have the Jazz done lately?
Though their season got off to a rocky start, the Utah Jazz have started to make good on the promise so many pundits saw in them over the summer. They're in the middle of a season-high six game winning streak, and have not only climbed back into the playoff picture (they would be the 8th and final seed if the playoffs started Tuesday), but are within striking distance of passing the Houston Rockets. For that matter, they're just two games back from Dallas (gulp). A surprising catalyst for Utah's win streak has been second year wing Rodney Hood, who's scored over 20 points in five of the last seven games.
What happened the last time these two teams met?
Eons ago -- back on November 20th -- the Mavs beat the Jazz in Utah 102-93, giving them six straight wins and moving their record to 9-4. Deron Williams' return to Salt Lake went well, as he poured in 23 points on 13 shots to go with 8 assists. Dirk (who always seems to shoot well in Utah) chipped in with 19 on 8-12 shooting, and both he and Deron were +15 on the night. Dallas committed just 8 turnovers; less than half of Utah's 17. Really, this was probably the best stretch of basketball the Mavs played all year, along with maybe Utah's worst, so expect two very different looking teams to emerge from the locker room Tuesday evening.
What will the key matchup be?
Both Gordon Hayward and Chandler Parsons were restricted free agents two summers ago, and both signed hefty offer sheets despite being third options on their current teams. With fairly similar playing styles (versatile, athletic point-forwards), there was much talk at the time about who was better and who may have deserved...or not deserved the contract he received. As of right now, it would be hard to argue Hayward hasn't been the more productive player. He's been healthier, of course, and has made a jump in terms of efficiency while taking on a larger role. Chandler Parsons' rate stats, while strong, have remained relatively unchanged since coming to Dallas, though the Handsome One's recent play suggests that he's capable of more. I expect this to be an interesting matchup if for no other reason than -- as I said -- both these players are pretty similar.
What do the Mavs need to do to be successful against the Jazz?
This isn't going to be an easy game for the Mavs. Heck, none of them are. Marvs gonna Marvs, amiright? But the Jazz are third in the league in opponents points per game at 95.9. In fact, the Jazz have one of the best defenses in the league across the board. Ugh, so basically, the Mavs won't be successful.
The Mavs take a lot of 3s and one of the few defensive weaknesses of the Jazz is opponent 3-point shooting. Unfortunately, Dallas doesn't shoot the 3 particularly well. They'll need to tonight if they hope to but a dent in a stingy defense.
How to watch
Tip-off is set for 8:30 Eastern Time (7:30 CT) and can be viewed via FSSW or through League Pass on your TV or streaming device. Enjoy!