Bet Jazz +9.5 vs. Spurs for your NBA Picks

Jason Lake

Saturday, December 14, 2013 12:55 PM GMT

Saturday, Dec. 14, 2013 12:55 PM GMT

The Utah Jazz might be the worst team in the NBA, but do the San Antonio Spurs have the right basketball betting stuff to get paid on Saturday night?

Jason’s record on his final NBA picks for 2013, up to December 12 inclusive:

22-22 ATS

5-5 Totals

Friday the 13th didn't turn out so badly for the San Antonio Spurs and the Utah Jazz. The Spurs were 117-110 winners over the Minnesota Timberwolves, although they failed to beat the basketball odds as 8-point home faves, while the Jazz (+10.5 away) upset the Denver Nuggets 103-93. Now both teams have to get in the Winnebago and head for the former Delta Center, where the NBA lines at press time have San Antonio laying nine points for Saturday's matchup (9:00 p.m. ET) with a total of 199.

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Out of Sight

In the long view at least, there's not much difference between these two franchises. Both play in small markets, usually under strong management, and usually with an eye on efficiency over flair. There is one major difference: The Spurs (18-4 SU, 11-11 ATS) have won championships. Four of them, to be precise, all under the tutelage of current coach Gregg Popovich. The Jazz (6-19 SU, 11-13-1 ATS), on the other hand, have just those two trips to the NBA Finals in 1997 and 1998, where Karl Malone, John Stockton and friends came up short to Michael Jordan's Chicago Bulls.

As you can see by their records, these two clubs are also on divergent paths toward 2014. San Antonio has designs on returning to the NBA Finals, after barely missing out on the championship last year. Utah has designs on a top pick in the 2014 NBA Draft. But that doesn't mean the Jazz are simply going to roll over, as the Nuggets discovered Friday night. That just wouldn't be sporting.

To Win Is to Lose

The trick with tanking is that you're not really trying to lose in the micro sense. At the macro level, if you have a team that's marginal at best, you trade away your viable veterans and concentrate on developing your young (and cheap) players. Those youngsters will naturally lose a lot of games, but you coach them to make the right plays, not to throw the ball into the fifth row.

This is where the Jazz are right now. They didn't quite make the Western Conference playoffs last year at 43-39, so instead of settling for the bubble-team status quo, they blew it up, sending away their top two players in Al Jefferson (20.9 PER) and Paul Millsap (19.8 PER). This year's top two players? If you go by PER – that's Player Efficiency Rating, which doesn't measure defense very well, but it's good enough for peasants like myself – that would be fourth-year SF Jeremy Evans (20.2 PER) and center Derrick Favors (18.8 PER).

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I Could Dunk It with My Nose

Evans is a particularly interesting character. You may recognize him as last year's Slam Dunk champion, although people seem to have tuned out on All-Star Weekend in general. Evans was a late-second round pick in 2010 out of the Western Kentucky Hilltoppers, nestled away quietly in the Sun Belt Conference, and he played scant minutes off the bench in his first three NBA seasons. But Evans put up solid peripherals during those fleeting moments, and he's doing even better this year with an increased workload of 22 minutes per game off the bench.

I'm going to recommend the younger and springier legs in this matchup. The Jazz have won back-to-back games since SF Marvin Williams (15.8 PER) rejoined the lineup, while the Spurs are 2-4 ATS in their last six, and a bit soft in the middle without centers Tiago Splitter (19.0 PER) and Aron Baynes (6.0 personal fouls per 36 minutes). Twenty fouls to give!

NBA Pick: Take the Jazz +9.5 at bet365

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