The Dallas Mavericks (29-21), winners of 4 of their last 5 games, host the Western Conference’s worst Utah Jazz (16-32).
With a win the Dallas Mavericks will move into a tie for 7th place with the Phoenix Suns, and if the Golden State Warriors lose to the Chicago Bulls Thursday night, both the Mavs and Suns will be tied for 6th.
The Jazz have lost three straight games entering Friday.
As poor as Utah’s record is, the Mavs can’t take this team or game for granted.
Guard Play: It’s no secret that the Mavericks struggle to contain quick point guards and bigger shooting guards. The Jazz have both. Gordon Hayward (16.7 ppg), Trey Burk (12.7 ppg and 5.6 asp), and Alec Burks (13.2 ppg) won’t be easy covers. Over the last 5 games the three have combined for just 34.4 points. The Mavs must not allow Hayward and Burk to get back to their scoring ways.
Monta Ellis and Jose Calderon haven’t exactly been hot on the Mavericks side. They’ve combined for just 25.6 points over the last five. For the Mavs to continue to make a playoff push, they’ll need these two guards to find their groove.
Dirk Nowitzki: Dirk has sure been on a hot streak. He’s putting up 29.8 points and 9 rebounds on 61.6% shooting over the past five games. The Jazz don’t exactly have a favorable defensive matchup for the big German. Dirk having another efficient game shouldn’t be a surprise.
Interior: The Mavs may have caught a break with Derrick Favors (13.5 ppg and 9.3 rpg) questionable for the game. Favors has missed the last three games due to a sore right hip. Po-Go stick Jeremy Evans may also miss the game with a bruised tailbone. The Jazz will be left with Enes Kanter in the middle. He’s averaging 17.6 point and 6.4 rebounds over his last 5 games.
If Favors and Evans are a no-go, the Jazz will likely start Richard Jefferson and Marvin Williams at the forward positions. Neither will be able to match up with Dirk, but the Mavs must make sure to find them on the perimeter. Jefferson is shooting 43.5% from 3 on the season; he has upped that over the last 5 games (9-18). Williams is coming off a 23 point performance against the Toronto Raptors.
With or without Favors, the Mavericks will need the Samuel Dalembert they’ve seen the last two games. In wins over the Sacramento Kings and Memphis Grizzlies, he’s averaged 16 points and 9 rebounds. If Dalembert doesn’t show up, it may be a long night for the Mavericks.
Bench Play: The Jazz have a decent bench, averaging 32.3 points on the season, but with possible injuries to the frontline, this may be the Mavs biggest advantage. Behind Devin Harris, Vince Carter and Brandan Wright, the Mavs bench has been more than phenomenal. The Mavs bench is putting up 42+ points per game over the last 5 games. The Mavs have need their bench to come up big with the starting guards slumping and they’ll need them again.
This will be the second meeting between these two teams. The Mavs won the previous meeting at home 103-93. Highlights Below
As stated earlier, a win will put the Mavs in great position to make a playoff push with the All-Star break around the corner.