The Mavs endured a difficult start to the season, but have seemingly righted the ship over the past two weeks, winners of four of their last five and seven of nine overall. The competition has been solid as well, with wins over San Antonio, Oklahoma City and at Boston. It appears that their 1-4 start is finally in the rear-view mirror.
For Utah, the success this season has been somewhat of a surprise. The currently sit at 9-4, and likewise boast some pretty impressive wins on their resume. In the past week, they have beaten New Jersey by 13, and then turned around the next night at beat Denver IN Denver by ten. Two nights ago they handed the red-hot Clippers a complete beatdown, 108-79. Many pundits, yours included, keep waiting for the other shoe to drop, but are beginning to reluctantly admit it may not be happening…
The Mavericks have played well recently against the Jazz, winning four consecutive games. However, Dallas is just 2-8-1 against the spread in their last 11 games in Utah. Not to mention, with the roster changes in Dallas, and the apparent growth in Utah, the talent discrepancy isn’t nearly as large as it was last season. Utah has been dominant at home this season so far, winners of 7 of 8 games in Salt Lake.
From a matchup perspective, things play to Utah strengths fairly well. Dallas doesn’t have the explosive scoring guards to highlight some of Utah’s lack of size and perimeter defense. Likewise, Utah has some lean athletic interior defenders who can follow Nowitzki out to the perimeter and make him work for clean shots. He’ll still get his points, but it they can force him to take a high volume of shots to do so, they come out ahead overall.
Ignore the Jazz and their 9.6 point per game positive differential in their home gym at your own peril. In the meantime, I’ll place my five game win streak against the spread in their hands. Give me the Jazz laying just two and a half at home.