Reeling Jazz seek first home win

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The Utah Jazz have yet to win a game at home this season, but will look to reverse that trend when they host the Dallas Mavericks on Wednesday night.

Things haven’t exactly gone as hoped for the Utah Jazz to start out the 2018-19 season, and their forgettable 4-6 record is just the half of it. Worse than the disappointing results, the Jazz have been banged up as several players have missed time or are ailing. Most notable of that group is Donovan Mitchell who missed the most recent contest against Memphis with a hamstring injury and was out Monday night against Toronto with a sprained ankle.

Injuries aside, though, the Utah Jazz simply haven’t executed well, especially on defense. And that’s the main contributing factor to their losing record. Their 4-6 mark includes four straight losses at home where they have yet to win a game during this young season. As such, while it’s much too early in the year to panic, Jazz fans are certainly justified in feeling some concern and worry for their under-performing squad.

Fortunately, the Jazz will have a nice chance to get their mojo back and return to a winning track when they host the Dallas Mavericks on Wednesday night. The Mavs are currently sitting at last in the Western Conference with a forgettable record of 2-7, which has included dropping six straight. As mediocre as the Jazz have been in terms of both offensive rating (15th – 108.9) and defensive rating (16th – 109.3), the Mavs have been worse.

Heading into Tuesday’s slate of games, Dallas ranks 19th in offensive rating at 107.0 and 24th in defensive rating at 112.9. As such, the Jazz should be considered quite heavy favorites and poised to win their first (and long overdue) home game of the season.

They certainly asserted their will the last time they faced off against Dallas, as it resulted in a commanding 113-104 win in which the Jazz led nearly the entire way. That was also one of the Jazz’s best shooting performances as they went 52.5 percent from the field and 40 percent from deep. Not only that, but in what has been a rarity so far this season, the D showed up as well, limiting the Mavs to only 41.8 percent shooting from the field and 32.1 percent from the perimeter.

It was a solid win in which the more talented team came out on top, but that doesn’t mean the Jazz can sleep on the Mavs, especially considering how Utah has appeared of late. In that contest in Dallas, Utah still turned it over a whopping 18 times, and they were fortunate that such carelessness wasn’t more costly.

It’s definitely been troublesome in other games, though, as the Jazz are 17th in the league in turnovers per game at 15.2 and 25th in opponent points off turnovers, giving up 18.6 per contest. Following both giveaways and missed shots, the Jazz have done a horrible job of defending in transition, and if they give those kind of easy looks to a young Mavericks team, they may find themselves in deep trouble and at risk of being upset.

The Mavs record is undoubtedly poor and I think we’ll see them struggle throughout the year. Nevertheless, they have given some good teams a run for their money and shouldn’t be underestimated. Dennis Smith Jr. and Luka Doncic are both rising studs, DeAndre Jordan is a former All-Star and both Harrison Barnes and Wesley Matthews are capable vets.

So far Utah’s biggest enemy has been complacency and lack of execution. If they fall into either or both of those trends, they’ll be at risk at getting run off the floor by a fearless Mavs team.

The good news is that the Mavs will be coming into Salt Lake City on the second night of a back-to-back which could very well mean tired legs and a lack of energy for the opposing squad. Dallas will face off at home against the Washington Wizards on Tuesday night before travelling to Utah for Wednesday’s showdown.

Taking into consideration their poor record, inexperience, scheduling situation and lack of overall depth, I have a hard time believing that the Mavs will be able to upset a Jazz team that is much better than what their early record indicates. Utah has to be prepared to show up, play hard and overcome some of their demons that have troubled them of late, particularly on defense, but there’s no reason why they shouldn’t topple the lackluster Dallas Mavericks.

I think we’ll see them break out of their funk on Wednesday night and show out for a crowd that’s desperate for a home win by putting up a huge victory.

Prediction – Jazz 120, Mavericks 106

Next: Utah Jazz 2018-19 Northwest Division Comparison: An unclear November

The only thing that worries me about this game is the status of Donovan Mitchell. Due to the ankle sprain he suffered in Denver, it has yet to be determined whether or not he plays against Dallas on Wednesday. With or without him, the Jazz should be able to find a way to rally and win. But obviously, that task becomes much easier if he is indeed available to play.

The Utah Jazz and Dallas Mavericks tip-off on Wednesday night at 7:00 PM MT at Vivint Smart Home Arena.

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