With the Utah Jazz winning 5 straight games and 9 out of their last 10, they are arguably the hottest team in the NBA’s Western Conference right now. Tonight, they take on a Dallas Mavericks team who has dropped 2 in a row and is a pedestrian 5-5 in their last 10 games overall.
Of course, when you have a leader like Dirk Nowitzki, trends like that can be broken at any given time. Hopefully for Utah, that is not what happens tonight.
The Jazz and Mavs have played twice this season, splitting the two meetings, which were each played in Dallas. The one concern for the Jazz in the previous two meetings was none else than Dirk Nowitzki. In the two games, Nowitzki averaged 34.5 points and 9.5 rebounds. With Dallas’ less-than-superb play lately, I would not be surprised if Dirk puts up similar numbers in this one to try and right the ship.
A huge key to this game will be the status of Deron Williams. In Dallas’ last game, against Portland, they gave up an astounding 52 points to the Blazers’ point guard, Andre Miller, who is certainly not a guy you expect to put up that many points. With that being the case, Utah’s point guard should be licking his chops and expecting to have an epic performance as well. If that point guard is indeed Deron Williams, the Mavericks better watch out. The last time the Mavs came to Utah, Williams scored 34 points and dropped 12 dimes, as the Jazz destroyed the Mavs by 28.
Another important player for Utah in this one will be Paul Millsap. Millsap, who is coming off of his first start of the season, and a spectacular one at that, is going to be counted on for another beastly performance. He will need to try and contain Dirk, and he will need to crash the boards with a purpose. His scoring can also make things a lot easier on the rest of his teammates, so if he can come anywhere near the 32 he scored against Sacramento, the Jazz will be very thankful.
Overall this should be a wonderful battle between two of the top-tier teams in the Western Conference, and there should be a lot of back-and-forth action to keep the fans excited throughout. Ultimately, I could see the Jazz pulling this one out late, and I think Andrei Kirilenko‘s defense might come into play at a crucial moment of the game. The EnergySolutions Arena has truly been a tough place for opponents to play, and there is no doubt that the Jazz get a huge boost when they play there, especially in the closing moments of a game. Will the Mavs be able to withstand the heat?
– The Mavs have lost 4 straight in Utah.
– The Jazz are 19-6 at home this season.
– The Mavs have the most road wins (16) in the Western Conference.
– Jason Kidd has made the 5th most 3-point field goals in NBA history.
– The Jazz have won 7 straight games at home.