Utah Jazz vs. Dallas Mavericks
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The Dallas Mavericks are having a break-out year while the Utah Jazz are having another one of their typical strong runs into the playoffs. The Utah Jazz and the Dallas Mavericks split the regular season matchups between them, each team winning two out of the four games played. For both teams, their wins came on the road. Utah broke this trend, however, by taking Game 1 of their first-round series at home.
With an assist from IBM's data-mining program Advanced Scout, let's take a closer look at the regular season matchups between these two teams.
November 4, at Dallas: Jazz won 112-106
November 20, at Utah: Mavericks won 107-98
March 26, at Utah: Mavericks won 98-90
April 7, at Dallas: Jazz won 116-103
The Marshall Plan
The Marshall Plan has not worked well against the Mavericks. The Jazz's Donyell Marshall
is having perhaps his finest year in the NBA, but just not when he plays against the Mavericks. Over the four regular season games, the Jazz were outscored by the Mavericks 175-197 (-22) when Marshall was on the floor. With Marshall at his usual small forward position, the Mavericks outscored the Jazz handily by 119-94 (+25). This is probably because the Jazz shot 41% (36-of-87) from the field, compared to the Mavericks' 44% (40-of-90) when Marshall was at small forward.
But Marshall law worked better when Donyell played power forward as the Jazz outscored the Mavericks 81-78 (+3) and the team's shooting percentage improved to 47%
The Floor Generals
The Dallas Mavericks have had a slight edge over the Utah Jazz with Steve Nash
leading the team at the point guard position but the Jazz's savvy veteran John Stockton
is known to come up big in the playoffs. Over the four regular season games, the Mavericks have outscored the Jazz 329-313 (+16 ) when Nash played point guard. But to Stockton's credit, the Jazz have outscored the Mavericks 288-280 (+8) during the time that Stockton was on the floor. When both Nash and Stockton are on the floor at the same time leading their teams, the Mavericks had a slight edge over the Jazz with a cumulative score of 258-255 (+3) over the 4 games.
In terms of field-goal percentages, the Mavericks shot 48% (109-of-225) and held the Jazz to 43% (107-of-250) while Nash was at the point. Meanwhile, when the Jazz played Stockton at point guard, they shot a slightly improved 46% (96-of-208) compared to the Mavericks' field goal percentage of 47% (91-of-194).
The differences at the point guard position may come with the backup players. The Mavericks have struggled when they use their own veteran, backup point guard and former member of the Jazz, Howard Eisley
. With Eisley at the point, the Mavericks were outscored 87-100 (-13) and their shooting percentage dropped to 41% (29-of-70) while the Jazz's shooting improved to 52% (36-of-69). The Jazz's effectiveness also suffered a bit when they used backup point guard Jacque Vaughn
. The Jazz were outscored 125-136 (-11), shot 42% (47-of-111), and the Mavericks were able to maintain their field goal percentage of 47% (47-of-101).
How to Play Howard
A mid-season trade brought a rejuvenated Juwan Howard
all the way from the nation's capital to Dallas and has sparked the Mavericks in their playoff run. But Dallas still needs to consider which position to play him at in the upcoming playoffs.
If we take a closer look into the numbers we find that Dallas was hammered by the Jazz 88-70 (-18) when Howard played power forward but their fortunes were reversed when the Mavericks used Howard at center 76-66 (+10) -- a combined point swing of 28 points. The shooting percentages also changed dramatically for both teams with Howard at the different positions. The Mavericks shot an outstanding 49% (23-of-47) with Howard at center but only managed to shoot 40% (25-of-62) with him at power forward. The Jazz, on the other hand, shot 46% (32-of-69) with Howard at PF and 40% (21-of-52) when he was at center.