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3 things to watch for as the Mavericks host the Jazz

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I predict a loss, which probably means they’ll win.

NBA: Dallas Mavericks at Utah Jazz Russ Isabella-USA TODAY Sports

The see-saw Mavericks went back down again (or is it better to be down when you’re on a see-saw? Who knows) Thursday in a season that is apparently answering the question of "are you tanking or are you competing for the playoffs" with "neither."

Mavs slide coming?

After a disappointing loss in Miami, the Mavericks draw a tough Utah team on the second night of a back-to-back. They somehow continue to manage to be a few games out of the 8th playoff spot in the West, while also only being a few games from last place in the West. A three game win streak seemed to give some hope of a return to respectability, but an 0-fer in the back-to-back that concludes Friday against Utah could set them up for a tumble, as they won’t play a team that currently has a worse record until -- surprise — they face Miami again February 27th.

No Hood? Good!

Rodney Hood has been a thorn in the side of the Mavs of late. He scored 22 points for Utah in the two teams first meeting this season, after torching Dallas for 29 last season. Unfortunately for the Jazz, he injured his Knee Saturday against Orlando and will apparently miss about two weeks.

Of course, Utah still has plenty of firepower, with a pair of two possible All-Stars in Gordon Hayward and Rudy Gobert, as well as longtime Mav-killers George Hil and Derrick Favors.

Don’t expect a track meet

Care to guess who the two slowest paced teams in the league are? Yes, the Mavs and Jazz. Utah has been in a bit of a groove offensively as of late, scoring 100 or more in four straight and 110+ twice over that span. But the Jazz have a way of slooowing things down and kind of just choking the life out of you with a stifling defense and bruising interior play. Dallas will surely milk the clock in looking for the best shot, as is their custom, but against a defense like Utah’s they may be better off taking any good look they can find, no matter how early.

How to watch

Tip-off is scheduled for 8:30 Eastern Time, 7:30 Central, on Fox Sports Southwest or your League Pass account. Enjoy!