Game thread: Utah Jazz commence tough stretch by hosting Mavs

The Utah Jazz face a difficult 10-game stretch which will get underway on Saturday afternoon with a bout against the Dallas Mavericks.

The gauntlet is about to begin.

The Utah Jazz have 10 games remaining between now and the All-Star break and, as my J-Notes colleague Lucas Miller wrote on Friday, this stretch is certainly going to test them. Their 18-2 record in the past 20 games has been impressive, but the strength of their opponents goes up dramatically in these next 10, beginning with Saturday’s contest against the Dallas Mavericks.

The Mavs have moved into the fifth spot in the Western Conference thanks largely to the play of recently-named All-Star starter Luka Doncic, who has been sensational in his sophomore season. He’s putting up historically good marks for such a young player as he’s at 29.1 points, 9.6 rebounds and 9.0 assists while going 46.6 percent from the field.

He’s a dangerous talent that even in just his second year and at age 20 can take over games and will his Mavericks team to victory.

Dallas also boasts another player whose style could give Utah trouble – Kristaps Porzingis. Although he still has looked a little out of sorts as he continues to adjust after suffering a major injury, he’s a floor-spacing big that the Jazz will have to find an answer for, and they can’t just expect Rudy Gobert to do it all. Sure, Kristaps’ efficiency has been less than remarkable this season, but he’s still a threat from pretty much anywhere on the court.

The Mavericks recently suffered an unfortunate stroke of bad luck that could hurt them against the Jazz and several other teams this season. They lost Dwight Powell to a season-ending Achilles injury. Powell’s numbers weren’t jumping off the page, but he was extremely important to the Mavs’ attack, especially as a roller to the rim. He was a quality big that did the little things for them and was shooting a team-best 63.8 percent from the field.

To patch up his absence, Dallas recently traded for the Golden State Warriors’ Willie Cauley-Stein, but as we’ve seen in matchups throughout the years including Utah’s most recent win over the Warriors, he’s a guy that simply can’t hang with Rudy Gobert. In fact, he often appears to shy away from challenging him completely.

Doncic and Porzingis pose a major threat and the Mavs are loaded with quality role players. Nevertheless, if the Jazz play as they have of late, they should still be able to top Dallas in terms of overall talent.

Game Data

Broadcast Info

Tip-off: 3:00 PM MT on January 25, 2020 from Vivint Smart Home Arena in Salt Lake City, UT
TV: AT&T SportsNet
Radio: The Zone Sports Network (97.5 FM & 1280 AM Salt Lake City)

Projected Starting Lineups

Utah JazzPositionDallas Mavericks
Rudy GobertCKristaps Porzingis
Royce O’NealePFDorian Finney-Smith
Bojan BogdanovicSFTim Hardaway Jr
Joe InglesSGSeth Curry
Donovan MitchellPGLuka Doncic


Injuries

The Utah Jazz are clean on the injury front. Mike Conley might get re-inserted into the starting lineup eventually but with things working so well and the team continuing to be cautious with him, I believe he’ll keep coming off the bench for now.

As mentioned previously, the Mavs will be without Powell for the remainder of the season. Ryan Broekhoff is also out with a lower leg injury.

Prediction

This is going to be a battle. The Mavs are an electrifying team that has been playing well lately coming off a solid win in a hostile environment in Portland. This could very well be the toughest challenge the Jazz have faced since their win over the LA Clippers nearly a month ago.

However, the Mavs aren’t exactly a defensive powerhouse and the Jazz have been scoring prolifically lately. If Utah can in return slow them down on D, I think they’ll be alright. The Action Network has the Jazz as narrow 2.5-favorites, which feels pretty reasonable. My prediction is Jazz 110, Mavericks 106.

Next: Utah Jazz need to make a move for a more reliable backup big

Discussion

#DALatUTA is the Twitter hashtag for the game and our live comment thread below will be up and rolling throughout the game as well. Go Jazz!

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