Back Jazz As Your Underdog NBA Pick Against LeBron And Cavaliers

LT Profits Sports Group

Monday, March 14, 2016 6:04 PM UTC

Monday, Mar. 14, 2016 6:04 PM UTC

The Cavaliers made a statement yesterday with a road win over the Clippers, but they may not be as motivated vs. the playoff-hungry Jazz. See my NBA picks here. 


The home underdog fighting for a playoff spot could have all the incentive on national television Monday night when LeBron James and the Cleveland Cavaliers (47-18, 30-32-3 ATS) pay a visit to those upstart Utah Jazz (31-35, 31-35 ATS) at Vivint Smart Home Arena in Salt Lake City, UT at 10:35 ET in a game televised nationally on ESPN.

The point spread at 5Dimes has Utah as a moderate home underdog for this contest with the current line at +4 on the NBA odds boards at odds of -102.


3-0 Road Trip So Far
The Cavaliers are looking to complete a perfect 4-0 Western road trip here after averaging 118.0 points in the first three wins over the Sacramento Kings and the two Los Angeles teams, a far cry from how they closed out their last home stand with an embarrassing loss to the injury-depleted Memphis Grizzlies as 15-point favorites. Cleveland has responded well since leaving home and leads the Toronto Raptors by 2½ games for the top seed in the Eastern Conference.

The young Jazz went into a prolonged slump after quite possibly overachieving a tad earlier in the season, but they are turning things around again as the winning NBA picks in their last two games, first beating the Washington Wizards here at home and then going on the road and beating the Kings in Sacramento 108-99 yesterday. They should be playing in an electric atmosphere here with this game marking the only trip by LeBron James to Utah this season.


Letdown Spot for Cavaliers?
The Cavaliers are certainly playing very well as they prepare to retune home following this game, but remember that they are playing without a day off following a marquee nationally televised game yesterday where they routed one of the better teams in the supposedly stronger Western Conference in an easy 114-90 win over the Clippers, completing a season sweep of Los Angeles.

With that statement out of the way, the Cavaliers could ease up a bit here tonight on getaway day, especially with this being the second of a back-to-back and taking on a far less glamorous opponent. One thing that Cleveland will probably not do tonight is rest James, as he was on the bench for most of the fourth quarter in Los Angeles yesterday, already prompting Coach Tyronn Lue to announce that LeBron will be playing tonight.

Nonetheless, the Jazz are a pesky team that can be very dangerous even with the Cavs at full strength, as was the case the first time these clubs met this season at Quicken Loans Arena in Cleveland when the Cavaliers managed to escape with the close non-covering 118-114 victory.


Jazz Still Fighting for Playoffs
That first meeting should give the Jazz confidence for this rematch, and remember that Utah is a much better team at home, where it has risen up vs. the premier teams in the league quite often in the past. And even with that aside, this is a much more important game for the Jazz, as even at four games under .500 overall, they remain just two games out of the eighth and final playoff spot in the West.

Utah is a terrific defensive team anchored by 7-foot-1 center Rudy Gobert from France, who is third in the NBA with his 2.3 blocks per game. The Jazz are second in the NBA in points allowed at 97.3 per game, and with Utah figuring to play at its usual plodding pace offensively at home, we do not expect the Cavaliers to come close to their 118.0-point average over the last three games.

Thus, we give the Jazz a great shot at the upset provided they continue to show the offensive improvement they showed while winning the last two games, during which they scored 114 and 108 points respectively.


Not Cleveland’s Favorite Venue
Finally, the Cavaliers have not enjoyed their last six visits to Salt Lake City much from a betting viewpoint as it is the Jazz that are 4-1-1 ATS in the last six head-to-head meetings in Utah. The Cavaliers are also 8-17-2 ATS in their last 27 games vs. teams with losing records, while the Jazz are 8-1 ATS in their last nine home games vs. teams with winning road records, as well as 14-6-1 ATS in their last 21 games playing with no rest.

With this being a treacherous spot for Cleveland and with Utah still hopeful of earning a playoff berth, we recommend taking the points with the Jazz as your NBA picks in front of a supportive crowd in Salt Lake City on ESPN Monday.

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NBA Pick: Jazz +4 
Best Line Offered: at Pinnacle



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