The Utah Jazz (2-2) host the hungry and deadly Dallas Mavericks (0-3) tonight. Rick Carlisle and his club is rested, and ready. Quin Snyder got the jump on Gregg Popovich but I don’t think he out-coached him. His guys made shots. Pop’s guys didn’t. Can you build a strategy around never missing your three pointers? I don’t know. But one guy who probably has the answer is Dirk Nowitzki. And we’ll see him tonight. And he’s aiming to get Dallas their first win of the season.
Utah plays slower, and more of the “defensive four factors” actually favor Dallas. They own their defensive glass, and force a lot of turn overs. On the other side of the floor, they aren’t sloppy at all. Utah? Very sloppy.
Dallas can run and gun or slow it down. Utah wants to funnel everything into the paint on defense because, c’mon, Rudy Gobert. Dallas doesn’t need to get in the paint to hurt you though. We could see a contrast of styles for sure.
(As usual, color coded for who is and out tonight) I think we’re going to see some good things from Harrison Barnes and Andrew Bogut in this game. They seem to do well against Utah. Dirk Nowitzki always does as well. Will this be one of the few times Deron Williams beats his old team as a result? We saw Hill do that last night. Stranger things have happened before.
No Boris Diaw. Again. If young guys like Trey Lyles and Joel Bolomboy continue to play hard I will get over it. I don’t know if the Jazz can continue to get over missing two of their top four wing players though. Yikes. I mean it. YIKES. This is a wing player’s league right now with the rule changes and positional shifts. I don’t know how Utah is keeping their head above water using Dante Exum and Shelvin Mack at shooting guard for so long.
It’s working, I guess. But it’s not ideal.
Marquee Match-Up: Trey Lyles vs. Dirk Nowitzki
Okay, for reals. This isn’t the marquee match-up for anyone but me. Why? Because while we’ve seen George Hill, a legit vet starting point guard for a team that has advanced in the NBA Playoffs, go up against Damian Lillard, Chris Paul, Tony Parker, and tonight Deron Williams — things are a little more difficult for our second year bigman. Trey Lyles is NOT a legit vet starter who has helped take teams deep in the post season. But he has (because of injuries to Derrick Favors and Boris Diaw) had to go up against Ed Davis, Blake Griffin, and LaMarcus Aldridge for key minutes. Last night he really seemed to push back using his driving ability and, uh, Mambility? (Shooting even when you are missing, but you’re young now so maybe later on in your career it will help — like Kobe Bryant’s air balls against the Jazz in the 90s?)
Davis, Griffin, Aldridge, these are all legit NBA bigs. Some are even All-Stars. Dirk? He’s a future Hall of Famer. If you are going to get your butt kicked, get your butt kicked by the best. In terms of face-up fours who can stretch the defense, create their own shot, and get boards — Dirk is pretty much the prototype. Lyles will have his hands full tonight. But that’s good. Make mistakes. That’s fine. (Something Jerry Sloan didn’t understand.) Review your mistakes and learn from them.
There’s a lesson here tonight in the making with Dirk playing. I hope Trey takes notes.
X-Factor: Cumulative Fatigue
The Jazz have been playing quite a bit lately. This will be their third game in four nights, and second night of a back to back. With three of their top 10 rotation players out they have played well. A .500 record is better than I expected. If they are tired and showing it Dallas will jump on the team.
Learning to finish games is something this team is trying to figure out. Learning to play through adversity is another. Tonight should be a schedule loss. Prove me wrong, Jazz.
Prediction: Jazz win.
Dallas will come out swinging for their life. They are desperate. I just think Utah is a better team though.