The Dallas Mavericks have been through some interesting times lately, while the Utah Jazz just keep on beating the NBA odds while nobody’s looking. Watch for the underdogs when they meet tonight.
Jason’s record as of Feb. 10: 34-29-3 ATS, 2-4 Totals
Bankroll goes down; bankroll goes up. The Dallas Mavericks have given us a wild ride recently; they honked a big lead last week against the Golden State Warriors, then they cruised to victory over the hapless Sacramento Kings. This Wednesday night (8:30 p.m. ET), the Mavericks will face a team somewhere in between those two extremes. The Utah Jazz are on the ascendancy at 5-5 SU and 7-3 ATS in their last 10 games. And they could be a solid pick in this matchup, even after falling from +5 to +3.5 once the NBA odds were released.
Blame the All-Star break for the shift in the basketball odds . With so many veteran players on board, it looks like the Mavericks (35-19 SU, 26-27-1 ATS) are willing to sacrifice Wednesday’s game for the greater good. Tyson Chandler (21.4 PER) and Monta Ellis (18.5 PER) both had to leave Monday’s game against the Los Angeles Clippers with what appear to be minor injuries. Chandler has already been taken out of the lineup for Wednesday. Ellis is almost certain to join him.
They could use the extra time off. Although Dallas has a strong bench, both Chandler and Ellis have logged heavy minutes after starting nearly every single game for the Mavericks. Same deal with Dirk Nowitzki (20.7 PER) and Chandler Parsons (16.6 PER). The workload seems to be getting to the Mavs; they’re just 9-9 SU and 6-11-1 ATS over the past month. Even if you take the somewhat disappointing Rajon Rondo (12.3 PER) out of the mix, Dallas is 4-2 SU and 3-3 ATS since Rondo got his face busted up.
We bought in with the Jazz (19-33 SU, 28-24 ATS) a couple of weeks ago when they faced the Warriors as 10-point home dogs, and not only did the Jazz cover, they beat the Dubs 110-100. Six different Utah players scored in double figures, including reserve point guard Trey Burke (12.0 PER), whose weaknesses haven’t been as detrimental to the team since he lost the starting gig to Dante Exum (6.6 PER).
Then again, Exum hasn’t been lighting the world on fire since his promotion. As a reserve, the fifth-overall pick in 2014 was a plus-1.5. As a starter, Exum is minus-2.3. That’s what tougher competition can do to your stats. On the flip side, Burke is plus-2.9 as a reserve after going minus-6.2 in the starting lineup. Looks like a win-win for Utah. But if the Jazz are going to make it back into the top half of the Western Conference, one or both of these young guards is going to have to step it up.
It’s an All-Night Ride
In the meantime, the Jazz are riding with their version of the Four Horsemen: Gordon Heyward (20.7 PER), Derrick Favors (22.2 PER), Rudy Gobert (22.0 PER) and Enes Kanter (17.6 PER). These four players have been toiling away in relative obscurity – especially Gobert, who leads the team with a plus-5.8 Box Plus/Minus, yet is coming off the bench behind Kanter for now. Again, Gobert’s numbers will be slightly inflated since he’s often matched up against the opposition’s second-stringers, but the giant Frenchman is well worth keeping an eye on.
We’re particularly impressed with Favors, and have been since his brief college career at Georgia Tech. The third-overall pick in 2010 was part of the haul that Utah received from the then-New Jersey Nets in the Deron Williams trade. So was the first-round pick that was used on Kanter in 2011. Too bad the Jazz traded the other pick they landed to the Minnesota Timberwolves, along with Utah’s own first-rounder, to get Burke at the 2013 Draft. Minnesota ended up with Shabazz Muhammad and Gorgui Dieng. Sorry, no backsies.
Free NBA Pick: Take the Jazz at 5Dimes