Don't look now, but the two teams tied for first in the Western Conference will clash on the hardwood as the Utah Jazz battle it out with division rival Portland. Join us for our NBA odds series, where our Jazz-Blazers prediction and pick will be revealed.
It has been well documented how impressive the Jazz have looked thus far without Donovan Mitchell and Rudy Gobert no longer rocking the Utah threads. Tasked with more of a team approach with no clear-cut superstar residing in Salt Lake City anymore, the unselfish style of play has skyrocketed Utah to the top spot with Portland out in what has been a wild, wild, west to begin the NBA season.
Similar things can be said about the Trail Blazers' surprising play up to this point, but let's not forget that Portland was a playoff team as recent as the 2020-2021 season. Not to mention, it is hard to debate that the Blazers have the most electrifying sharpshooting superstar on the floor in Damian Lillard. Although hampered with injuries over the past several seasons, Lillard is finally back at full health and ready to bring his team back to the postseason.
Here are the Jazz-Blazers NBA odds, courtesy of FanDuel
NBA Odds: Jazz-Blazers Odds
Utah Jazz: +4 (-110)
Portland Trail Blazers: -4 (-110)
Over: 228 (-110)
Under: 228 (-110)
Why The Jazz Could Cover The Spread
Coming into this matchup with an 11-6 record, the Jazz underwent their first taste of scrutiny when they suffered three straight losses before snapping that streak by defeating the shorthanded Suns yesterday. In what will be the second game in just as many nights for Utah, the Jazz' best chance at covering the spread will be to get forward Lauri Markkanen going again early.
In Utah's statement win over the Suns that saw them survive Devin Booker's 48 point-outing, it was the former Arizona Wildcat standout in Markkanen that answered the bell when his team needed it the most. By the final horn, it ended up being just another day at the office as the 25-year-old power forward punished Phoenix for a whopping 38 points. Outside of Lillard, Markkanen is the best player on the floor and another stellar performance would do wonders for the Jazz.
However, the biggest reason that Utah has played as well as they have to begin the season is because of their ability to get so many other players the ball in space with the best chance at scoring. As it stands, Utah is the third-highest-scoring team in the league and is also top-five when it comes to dishing out assists to teammates. The defense could certainly use some work, but it has been as encouraging as ever for Utah to see the offensive attack perform like they have been.
Why The Trail Blazers Could Cover The Spread
Even though both of these teams are exactly tied when it comes to their placing in the standings, they could not be more different statistically. At first glance, the Blazers' bread and butter come from their defensive prowess rather than how they currently operate on the offensive side of things. In fact, Portland ranks 25th in total scoring but have rallied around head coach Chauncey Billups' defensive philosophy and only surrenders 107.7 points per game. With how effective Utah has been on offense, it will be vital for the Blazers to make the Jazz work for every single bucket they can get.
While the stats may appear to be gloomy, it is not like Portland isn't capable of filling up the stat sheet offensively. Not to mention, it hasn't helped that the Blazers have been hit with some injuries that have prevented the Blazers from gelling altogether. Regardless, any offense with Damian Lillard running the show is a scary one. Since coming back from injury, Portland is still waiting for Dame Time to get going from beyond the arc. In his previous three games combined, Lillard has only shot 25% from three and is due for a breakout shooting game at point. With Utah oftentimes unwilling to guard the perimeter, this could be Dame's time to shine.
Final Jazz-Blazers Prediction & Pick
With Utah playing the second of a back-to-back, expect Portland to pull away late in front of the Blazers' home crowd.
Final Jazz-Blazers Prediction & Pick: Trail Blazers -4 (-110)