In their 7th game in the Orlando bubble, the Utah Jazz will face the Dallas Mavericks on Monday, August 10th at 1:00 PM MT. This will be the third game in four nights for the Jazz and their 4th game in 6 nights. Needless to say it’s going to be a tough one.
The good news is that it’ll be just as hard for the Mavericks. The good news is that the bubble is going to be crazy for everyone. Packing this many games into this short of a time frame is going to be hard on everyone. Teams are going to be tested quickly and since the teams in the bubble are the ones with the best records, we’ll know real quick who are the contenders and who are the pretenders.
That being said, it’s been a long time since the we’ve seen basketball and you may have forgotten some things about the Mavericks. Here’s three things to remember when the Jazz take them on.
They’re really good!
For the season, the Mavericks have the #1 offense in the league powered by a massive dose of Luka Doncic.
Doncic this season has established himself as one of the dominant players in the league and the Mavericks take advantage of it. His usage, which is up there with players like James Harden, is one of the tops in the league. And it’s a really smart thing for the Mavericks to do. Doncic, who is only 21 years old, plays like someone who’s been tested by opposing defenses for years. He makes lightning quick reads and uses his size and skill near perfectly on every possession.
It’s this play by Doncic that is earning him all-star bids, all-NBA nods and even MVP votes. For Utah to beat the Mavericks they’ve got to find a way to slow down Doncic.
Post all star break they’re better defensively but worse offensively
As good as the Mavericks have been this season on offense, they haven’t been quite as strong since the all-star break. Since Feb. 16th the Mavericks have just the 10th best offense in the league. Still good, but a drop from number one. Interestingly their defense has improved in this time frame from 17th in the league to 6th.
The offensive drop off can be partly attributed to losing Dwight Powell in January. The pick and roll combo of Luka and Powell was one of the deadliest combos in the league. Doncic has played fine since the injury but, as seen by their drop off in offense, it’s not quite the same.
The defensive improvement is something to watch. It may be fools gold though as the majority of the teams they’ve faced post all star break have been below .500. Safe to say if the Jazz can find a way to score at a high level, they should be able to handle the Mavericks.
Kristaps Porzingis might have topped out?
It’s been an up and down season for Porzingis coming off a torn acl. The year after that kind of injury definitely merits withholding too much judgement, but at what point do you start to worry?
For the season Porzingis is averaging 19 and 9 on 42% field goals and 34% from three. Since the all star break he’s averaged those exact numbers. These are just a slight tick below his career averages so it makes you wonder, with all the injuries in Porzingis’ past, is this as good as he’ll be?
If so, that’s a nice stretch big, but probably not one that defenses scheme around. If anything, that type of shooting allows Utah to do more on defense than they might normally do when facing a high level stretch shooter. Utah has had Rudy Gobert guard Luka Doncic at times and we might see them do that more. Gobert has shown that he can guard on the perimeter and recover when players drive. It’ll be interesting to see if the Jazz have him focus completely on Doncic when they face each other in the bubble.
Whatever happens, it’s going to be fun.