Will Jazz Get Caught in Another Trap at Mavericks?

jazz mavericks

Matthew Jordan

Wednesday, March 21, 2018 4:51 PM GMT

Wednesday, Mar. 21, 2018 4:51 PM GMT

The Utah Jazz look to avoid their first two-game skid in more than two months when they visit the tanking Dallas Mavericks on Thursday night.

Utah (40-31, 38-33 ATS) at Dallas (22-49, 36-34-1 ATS)Free NBA Pick: UnderBest Line Offered: SportsBetting

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Six games on what is frankly a pretty weak NBA schedule Thursday opposite the beginning of the NCAA Tournament’s Sweet 16. There are only four likely playoff teams in action among the 12 on the pro side. One of those is Utah opening a three-game road trip in Dallas with an 8:30 p.m. ET tip.

It’s the third and final meeting between the teams, with the Jazz trying for their first season sweep of the Mavericks since the 1998-1999 season. They almost got a four-game sweep last season but lost the series finale in Dallas in overtime. Four of the past five meetings have been decided by seven points or fewer.

Way back on Oct. 30, Utah beat visiting Dallas 104-89, rallying from a 14-point deficit and holding the Mavs to just 36 second-half points. Rodney Hood, since traded to Cleveland, had 25 points to lead Utah, which hit 16 3-pointers. On Feb. 24 also in Salt Lake City, the Jazz prevailed 97-90. Utah rookie Donovan Mitchell was excellent with 25 points, six rebounds and five assists.

The Mavericks have won 25 of the last 30 regular-season matchups in Dallas. Utah has covered just one of its past seven there.

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Jazz Overlooked Hawks?

I had my angle for this story all set. Utah was going to be entering the start of a three-game road trip on a 10-game winning streak and perhaps could be caught in a trap game in Big D with a visit to San Antonio on Friday. And I was right, the Jazz were caught in a trap.

Except, it was Tuesday at home against a terrible Atlanta team as Utah was beaten 99-94 as a 14-point favorite in one of the season’s biggest upsets. So, what happened? Well, Hawks point guard Dennis
Schroder was the best player on the floor with a career-high 41 points, including 17 in the fourth quarter. He also played late lock-down defense on Mitchell, who missed his final four shots late in the game and was just 9-for-28 overall.

Utah didn’t have a field goal in the final 2:33, shot 37.1 percent overall and 6-for-34 from deep. The Jazz also were without solid power forward Derrick Favors due to a sore left knee and the team is now 2-3 without him this season. Should the Jazz miss the playoffs by a game, they can blame Atlanta, which swept the season series.

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Let's learn from this one. #ontothenextone #gottaplaythroughit👀

— Rudy Gobert (@rudygobert27) March 21, 2018
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The Mavericks are better off losing out as they jostle for the most ping-pong balls possible in this summer’s draft lottery. They have dropped three straight, all on the road. Good-looking rookie Dennis Smith Jr., a clear steal at No. 9 overall (like Mitchell was even more so at No. 13), sat out Tuesday’s 115-105 loss in New Orleans with a sprained ankle and he’s not playing Wednesday. No reason to rush him back. Smith Jr. has 13 20-point games this season, the most 20-point efforts by a Dallas rookie before turning 21 in franchise history. Fellow guard Wesley Matthews, also a starter, is done for the season with a leg fracture.

I can’t see the Jazz losing here as they haven’t dropped back-to-back game since Jan. 12 & 15, but I’m not overly confident giving that many points as they could be looking past the Mavs a bit to Friday.

Dallas is lousy offensive team even with Smith Jr. in the lineup (27th in scoring), while Utah is second in the NBA in points allowed. Neither of the first two games came close to this current total, so ‘under’ is an easy call for a Thursday NBA pick. It has hit in eight straight Jazz matchups when their opponent reached triple digits in the previous game.

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