Utah Jazz 2017-18 Week 23 Outlook, Predictions

SALT LAKE CITY, UT - MARCH 17: Joe Ingles #2 and Donovan Mitchell #45 of the Utah Jazz high five during the game against the Sacramento Kings on March 17, 2018 at vivint.SmartHome Arena in Salt Lake City, Utah. NOTE TO USER: User expressly acknowledges and agrees that, by downloading and or using this Photograph, User is consenting to the terms and conditions of the Getty Images License Agreement. Mandatory Copyright Notice: Copyright 2018 NBAE (Photo by Melissa Majchrzak/NBAE via Getty Images)
SALT LAKE CITY, UT - MARCH 17: Joe Ingles #2 and Donovan Mitchell #45 of the Utah Jazz high five during the game against the Sacramento Kings on March 17, 2018 at vivint.SmartHome Arena in Salt Lake City, Utah. NOTE TO USER: User expressly acknowledges and agrees that, by downloading and or using this Photograph, User is consenting to the terms and conditions of the Getty Images License Agreement. Mandatory Copyright Notice: Copyright 2018 NBAE (Photo by Melissa Majchrzak/NBAE via Getty Images) /
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DALLAS, TX – MARCH 11: Dirk Nowitzki #41 of the Dallas Mavericks at American Airlines Center on March 11, 2018 in Dallas, Texas. NOTE TO USER: User expressly acknowledges and agrees that, by downloading and or using this photograph, User is consenting to the terms and conditions of the Getty Images License Agreement. (Photo by Ronald Martinez/Getty Images)
DALLAS, TX – MARCH 11: Dirk Nowitzki #41 of the Dallas Mavericks at American Airlines Center on March 11, 2018 in Dallas, Texas. NOTE TO USER: User expressly acknowledges and agrees that, by downloading and or using this photograph, User is consenting to the terms and conditions of the Getty Images License Agreement. (Photo by Ronald Martinez/Getty Images) /

3/22 Utah at Dallas

6:30 pm MT – AT&T SportsNet/League Pass

Opponent record: 22-48

Season series: Jazz lead 2-0

Much like is the case with Tuesday’s game against the Atlanta Hawks, Thursday’s battle against the Dallas Mavericks feels like one that the Utah Jazz ought to dominate. After all, the Mavs are just 22-48 and find themselves among the bottom feeders in the Western Conference. Not only that, but they lost their third leading scorer in Wesley Matthews for the season after he suffered a fracture in his right leg against the Memphis Grizzlies on Saturday, March 10.

Fun fact – Matthews actually FINISHED THE GAME against Memphis despite playing with a broken leg before an MRI on the Monday after the game revealed the fracture. That’s either lunacy or the toughest thing I’ve ever heard of.

All jokes aside, though, Matthew’s absence is a tough blow for the Mavs as he has served as a solid mentor to the team’s younger players, an excellent defensive presence and a knock-down three-point shooter. His loss has likely been a significant contributing factor to Dallas losing three of their last four games including a disappointing defeat in Brooklyn on Saturday night.

However, the Mavs recently toppled the Denver Nuggets and despite team owner Mark Cuban’s statements about losing games being in their best interest, for which he was fined, the Mavs don’t look like a team that is throwing in the towel. Veteran leader Dirk Nowitzki went as far as to say that while “there obviously are some teams that are going for losses”, the Mavs are “one that still wants to win.”

He also alluded to the possibility that Cuban’s tanking comments have the Mavs under a microscope if they were to try to pull any sort of stunt, but even if that weren’t the case, I don’t think it’s in the DNA of Nowitzki, head coach Rick Carlisle or the rest of the Mavericks vets to aim to lose. With all that adding up, this is a game in which the Jazz will need to be cautious, and it could turn out to be a real challenge for them.

The Mavericks tend to be a tough team to beat on their home court regardless of their record. Leading scorer Harrison Barnes can still be a force to be reckoned with as can rookie phenom Dennis Smith Jr. Not to mention, Dirk still has gas in the tank and renowned Jazz killer J.J. Barea always seems to be a threat and have his best games against Utah. Barea didn’t play Saturday against the Nets due to a rib injury, so we’ll see if he suits up on Thursday.

Despite the forces that the Mavs have rolled out this season, the Jazz have been able to survive Barea and hold the rest of his Dallas teammates in check rather well to beat them a pair of times. Playing them in Dallas instead of in Salt Lake City will be a different animal, but considering some of the Mavericks’ injuries, their lack of incentive to win and Utah’s recent play, I’m picking the Jazz to come out on top once again, albeit in a relatively close and hard-fought bout.

My Prediction: Jazz Win

Final Score: Utah 99, Dallas 92