The Jazz (3-2) continue their 4 game road trip with a back-to-back against the Dallas Mavericks. The Jazz have been beating teams without their best players (Chris Paul’s suspension, Anthony Davis’s elbow), but that won’t be the case for the Dallas Mavericks (2-3), who have rookie phenom Luka Doncic, sophomore high-flier Dennis Smith Jr., championship ring winner/Warriors tankjob result Harrison Barnes, and dunk squad DeAndre Jordan all gearing up for this matchup. While unfortunately old man Dirk is out with an ankle injury, the Jazz look to bring back Thabo Sefolosha returning from his 5 game suspension, furthering increasing the depth at all positions.
This depth will be important on the back of travel, as Ricky, Rudy, and Donovan all played 30+ minutes last night. The three of them lit it up – 75 points, 22 rebounds, 18 assists between them – as the Pelicans couldn’t contain the Ricky to Rudy lob game. Ricky took advantage of the opportunity of Julius Randle, Nikola Mirotic, and Jahlil Okafor defending the pick and roll to bounce back from frankly bad start to the season, and hopefully he can keep it rolling again tonight against DeAndre Jordan and Maxi Kleber.
Despite their three losses, the Mavericks have looked pretty good - losing only by 9 at the Raptors without DSJ, dropping 42 on the Hawks in the first quarter in Atlanta, beating the (admittedly dysfunctional) Timberwolves at home. Any team with Rick Carlisle at the helm will be a well-coached team, and the Mavericks’ starting lineup is quite a good one, all things considered.
When: 7:00 PM ET • Sunday, October 28, 2018
Where: American Airlines Center • Dallas, TX
TV: ATTSN-RM, FSSW-DAL
Radio: 1280 AM/97.5 FM The Zone
Raul Neto — Right Hamstring — Out
Dennis Smith Jr — Ankle — Questionable, but likely will play
Devin Harris — Hamstring — “Very doubtful”
Dirk Nowitzki — Ankle — OUT
What to watch for
Rookie phenom Luka Doncic is averaging 16.6 points, 6.2 rebounds, and 3.8 assists on the season. While his efficiency is middle of the pack (good for a rookie), his highlight reel shows so many flashes of potential. Just watch his work against the Wolves:
It’ll be up to Jingling Joe, Royce O’Neale, and Thabo Sefolosha to contain him and his offensive wizardry tonight. His “lack of athleticism” certainly hasn’t hampered him much so far. Thankfully, there’s very few other wing rotations in the league I’d trust more above those three to make Luka’s introduction to Jazz hard.
DeAndre Jordan vs Rudy Gobert
In a battle of the rim running, high rebounding big men, DeAndre and Rudy clash yet again in a throwback to the first round matchup against the Clippers two seasons ago. Jordan finally went back to Dallas after reneging on his contract back in 2015, signing a 1 year, $22 million dollar contract with the Mavs. Let’s hope Rudy delivers in this though matchup, causing Mark Cuban to yet again drive around downtown Dallas begging (thru texts) Jordan’s family for address to DeAndre’s home to apologize.
Most Likely Jazz-Killer: J.J. Barea
J.J. Barea is still in the league? Indeed he is, and still with the Mavs in his 13th season. The small, shifty, quick, pesky Puerto Rican point is rocking 8 points and 7.5 assists per game off the bench this season at the ripe age of 34. He’s clearly a decent point guard off the bench, but why would he be the likely Jazz Killer?
Last season, the Jazz seemed to have a bit of a problem containing fast, shifty combo guards - Dennis Schroeder (41 points), Damian Lillard (33 points, 39 points, 36 points), John Wall (35 points), Lou Williams (31 points), Kyrie Irving (33 points), Jeff Teague (25 points), Patty Mills (25 points), and, suprisingly, JJ Barea. He averaged 19 points and 7 assists against the Jazz, including a 23 points-8 assists and 17 points-12 assists in his two starts. Even though wunderkind Luka Doncic will get his, DeAndre will get his, and Harrison Barnes will try to get his, look for the Jazz to contain the X-Factor off the bench for the Mavs to really run away with this game.