The Dallas Mavericks will be in the news for quite a while after their trade for Kyrie Irving yesterday, but they will still need to play basketball as they wait for him to officially join the team. This depleted Mavs team will head to Utah tonight to take on the Jazz, and we’ll preview the game before going over my three plays in this one.
Blockbuster trade aside, the Mavs will enter tonight off a six-point loss to the Golden State Warriors, as they were without Luka Doncic, who is dealing with an injury. Dallas managed 113 points against the Warriors, but two of the three highest scorers for the Mavs in that game are no longer on the team in, Spencer Dinwiddie and Dorian Finney-Smith.
The now Brooklyn Nets combined for 43 points and 13 rebounds in the game, so more than ever, the Mavs will need Tim Hardaway Jr. and Josh Green to step up. Over the past five games, Dallas was ranked 22nd in offensive efficiency rating, so until Irving can suit up and Doncic returns from injury, the offense will be a massive question mark in the interim.
On the defensive end, Dallas was ranked 8th in defensive efficiency rating over that same five-game span, but new concerns arise now without Dinwiddie and Finney-Smith. Head Coach Jason Kidd will need to figure out on the fly what his best defensive lineups will be moving forward, and tonight is a tough game to attempt that in as the Utah Jazz ranked 3rd in the league over the past five games in offensive efficiency rating.
The Jazz went 3-2 over their past five games, including a win over the Mavericks, and in three of those games, they managed to score 120 or more points. In the span, Utah was 9th in the league in field goal percentage and 11th in three-point percentage, so their offense would be a tough match-up for anybody.
Arguably one of the toughest match-ups for any defense right now is Lauri Markkanen, who is averaging 26.1 points per game over the last ten games and had 29 points the last game these teams met.
For my first play in this one, I’ll be taking the Utah Jazz first-half spread of -5.5. The Jazz are 6-3-1 ATS in the first half of their last ten games and now face a depleted Mavs team that, in their past ten road games, went 2-7-1 ATS in the first half. I think Dallas could be in for a slow start tonight due to lineup changes and everyone trying to fill more significant roles for the time being.
Over the past five games, the Mavericks' first-half NET rating of -3 ranked 16th in the league, while Utah’s NET rating of 10.6 ranked 6th. The Jazz played well-rounded on both ends of the floor in the first half recently and even took an 18-point lead in halftime over the Mavs during their recent five-game stretch. Mind you; they were also able to do that against a Dallas team with Spencer Dinwiddie and Dorian Finney-Smith.
In the last match-up between these two teams, Dinwiddie led the Mavs with 35 points in Doncic’s absence, so it will be difficult for Dallas to fill that offensive gap, especially against a Jazz team that ranked 7th in first-half defensive efficiency rating.
I’ll be targeting two props in this one, starting with Tim Hardaway Jr. over 20.5 points at (-104). I’m expecting Hardaway Jr. to carry the Mavs offense tonight and build off his recent 22-point performance in the loss to the Warriors. Over the past ten games, he was already averaging 13.4 field goal attempts and 8.1 three-point attempts per game, so I expect a bigger spike in those numbers tonight.
My second play is Walker Kessler over 1.5 blocks at (-160). The rookie big man has recently been incredibly impressive on the defensive end and is averaging 2.8 blocks over his last ten games. Kessler had a whopping five blocks the last time these teams met, and while I’m not expecting that output, I think two is very attainable.
Utah Jazz 1H (-5.5)
Tim Hardaway Jr. Over 20.5 Points (-104)
Walker Kessler Over 1.5 Blocks (-160)