NBA Regular Season: Dallas Mavericks at Utah Jazz -- Game Preview

Russ Isabella-US PRESSWIRE

NBA Regular Season 2012-2013, Game 1:

Dallas Mavericks (1-0) @ Utah Jazz (0-0)

Game Preview! No, it's not late! Shut up!

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The Basics:

This is the first game of the season for our beloved Utah Jazz. And it's against another Western Conference playoff team: the Mavs. Dallas has been an obstacle for us in the past, mostly games in their gym though. It's our home opener, so I would expect the Jazz to come out and play hard.

After all, these games count.

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History:

Last season the Jazz and Mavericks played four times, with the Jazz losing the first three. Ouch.

This season I hope for better results, particularly on defense. But last season was last season, both of our teams have made a number of changes in the off-season. The Mavericks have lost Jason Kidd, Jason Terry, Brendan Haywood, Tyson Chandler, Lamar Odom, Yi Jianlian, *and* Shan Foster to name a few. (They did lose a few more guys) They did bring in Elton Brand, Darren Collison, Chris Kaman, O.J. Mayo, and drafted a few dudes as well. Of course, we didn't stay the same either.

The history of these two teams means little, especially since Dirk Nowitzki (who scored 40 in two of the games last year) is injured.

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The Game:

The game is going to be interesting particularly because the Mavs are without Dirk and Chris. Without Dirk they are way more dangerous and harder to guard because they share the ball more and are unpredictable. That's like how we play without Al Jefferson. And they used that to their advantage last night. Being under-estimated and under-scouted is something we know all about. So it would suck if we fall prey to it. I'm particularly interested in Jae Crowder, a rookie. He was a wing, but pushed into service as a SF/PF who played quite a bit of PF last night. As a result, he has super stretch ability. I want to see if Tyrone Corbin goes big or small. Going small could mean putting Paul Millsap or Marvin Williams on Jae when he's playing the 4. (Let's be honest, we could do that against Shawn Marion as well) I do think we try to keep things traditional tonight.

Which is going to play right into the trap the Mavs will try to spring on us with their new lineups and super fast guards in Darren Collison and Rodrigue Beaubois. I wouldn't dream of Alec Burks being asked to defend one of them, but it wouldn't be the stupidest decision one could make.

If the Jazz are going to go big, they can -- but it's not like the Mavs will roll over and die. Brendan Wright and Eddy Curry showed up last night as long, active, space eaters. But if the Jazz go big I wonder how well we'll do. Al Jefferson and Derrick Favors both shot poorly (fg%) in the preseason, and I must point out that Al did look really bad at scoring, he did make a much better effort at team play and being a part of the team in a fluid offense.

Both of these teams were supposed to be at the bottom of the Western Conference's playoff standings when the dust settles. And, I guess, you could say both teams are overlooked despite making a number of changes. I think Dallas can be way better on paper than I'm giving them credit for. Being without Dirk and Chris is going to hurt them right now -- but as Mavs fans know -- this could mean a better acclimation period for the new guys to find their own place. We need to do the same thing, and appear to have already locked guys into roles.

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Word from the Badguys:

Dood! I really did it! I really did it this time! I talked with some real people from the other team! I talked with Kirk from Mavs Moneyball and Jonathan at SB Nation Dallas. And the Q&A is up here. Check it out! Woo! For the record, I was organized at one point in my life for like a 2 hour stretch!

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X-Factors:

It's gotta be about the benches here. Last night the Mavs bench scored 37 points, pulled down 12 rebounds, and dished out 9 assists. They got major contributions from Crowder (whose dad used to play for the Jazz), Curry, Beaubois, and Carter. The Mavs bench held off the Lakers starters during the 3rd quarter. They impressed me. But I'm also impressed by our bench. The "non-Starters" for the Jazz curb stomped opponents all preseason long.

But there's the rub. What we did in the preseason may or may not mean anything now that the games count. I sure hope that our play is evocative of greater, internal, improvement. We'll see tonight.

I'd expect our starters to win their battle against the Mavs starters, but I'm sure the Lakers felt the same way. As a result, we know the real battle will be in the trenches when both benches are playing.

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As an aside:

No Delonte tonight makes me kind of sad on the inside. I would have wanted to see how he and Hayward would have interacted. Anyway . . . hope Delonte gets well soon. I liked him on the Celtics years ago.

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Fearless Prediction:

Jazz win. Why? It's our home opener, the Mavs played late last night in LA. And they got a win on this road trip, they're not going to be trying to shock the world two nights in a row.

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