One. Deron Williams
It's always the first thing I think of when we play Dallas.... I know that D-Will is not what he used to be, but I still cheer for him to do well. I know there are a lot of fans that don't share my opinion but I am over the whole D-Will fiasco and in hindsight I don't think it wasall his fault. Sure, he could have had a better attitude all around and he probably made it clear that he didn't want to be in Utah anymore, which made the Jazz and Jerry Sloan realize that they were going to have to start a rebuild process, which lead to everything being blown up. But I also think Jerry Sloan was just tired and was thinking about giving it up soon anyway. Despite all that, I still appreciate all that he did in Utah and I hope he does well (when he is not playing the Jazz). Besides, I obviously don't know the guy personally but I think he genuinely does regret forcing his way off the team based on how his career has gone since then. It's always interesting to watch him play against us because you can see that extra fire that he has, sometimes he does well and sometimes he doesn't. Hopefully tonight is one of those "not well" times.
Two. Mental Toughness
The Jazz have a pretty favorable schedule for the rest of January. Looking over the rest of this month it seems conceivable that this team could win out and also keep winning a lot well into February. But this Dallas team is no push over, especially at home. This is one of those games that the Jazz are either going to come out firing on all cylinders and be trying to put this team away early, or they will be down by 18 after the 1st quarter. I think they are more than capable than making this game a snoozer but they have to believe that they can dominate. I think for the Jazz that is going to be half the battle for most games the rest of the season. They still have a handful of games against teams that would favored against them but for the most part they should be able to make a real push in the standings from here on out and it starts with games like tonight. They have to forget about years past where the Mavericks were such a tough team at home and just go out and blow them out of the water.
With all the talk of the All-Star starters since yesterday, us Jazz fans get to now wait and be excited for next weeks reserves announcement. Will Hayward continue to ramp up his play to get noticed? Don't get me wrong, I think Gordon Hayward and Rudy Gobert have already proven that they both deserve to be all stars but tonights game is a great way to leave an impression in people's minds before next Thursday. I think Gobert will dominate tonight(again) especially because they really don't really have an inside oriented center, but what better way for Hayward to cement his worthiness that with an epic game tonight.
Four. Dirk Nowitzki
It feels like Dirk's "ride into the sunset" has been even more painful than Kobe's. He's only played in 17 games this year and it seems like even though he is scoring a respectable 13.6 points a game, his production has fallen off the map. Even in the games he's played it hasn't really helped Dallas be better. I guess the same could be said for Kobe and the Lakers last year but it just feels like Dirk might not even make it through the end of next year (which he has publicly said he wants to finish his current contract and play one or two more years). That being said, Dirk is one of those guys who always seems to torch us when we play against him. We'll see what tonight brings but it's almost like Dallas is already in the post Nowitzki era starting this year.
Five. The rowdy Dallas crowd
This one is a little bit of a tangent, but now that the Dallas Cowboys season is over, will the crowd be a bigger factor? I think the Dallas crowd is always pretty loud and supportive of the home team. But I honestly wonder now that it's the first weekend with no football if they will have an influx of fair weather fans and have a full arena. I don't even know if there is a stat for this, but it would be interesting to see if there is a higher winning percentage for teams at home the week after the NFL team from that city loses.
Anyway, I just hope that the Jazz can overcome any strange home team "curses" or career nights from any Dallas players and come away with a convincing win. We all know they can......