Defenses Step Up to Keep Teams Within the Number

Charles Stark

Friday, December 15, 2017 2:12 PM UTC

Friday, Dec. 15, 2017 2:12 PM UTC

For Friday’s NBA picks we’re going to take a look at two road underdogs that focus on defense as Utah travels to Boston, and San Antonio goes to Houston. There are going to be some great matchups in these games, but have the oddsmakers made each home team too big of a favorite?

Utah Jazz vs. Boston Celtics

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The Jazz are not playing the type of defense they did last year but they are still one of the better ones in the NBA. Oddsmakers have made Boston just a -5.5 favorite in this spot, but it makes sense when we break down the numbers, so for my NBA pick I’m going to back Utah plus the points. Boston looks like it’ll be in contention for the Eastern Conference championship and its defensive numbers are impressive, ranking first in opponent shooting efficiency and second in allowing opponents to shoot 43.9 percent from the field. However, on the other side of the ball they have been subpar, averaging 37.6 field goals per game to rank 24th. Utah has been shooting well from distance at 38.3 percent, ranking them fourth, and is allowing opponents just 36.7 field goals made per game, which ranks them third defensively. In the end, these teams match up somewhat evenly, and although this game is at Boston, I like Utah to take this game to the wire.

Free NBA Pick: Utah +5.5Best Line Offered: At Heritage

San Antonio Spurs vs. Houston Rockets

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If anyone is to dethrone Golden State, it looks like Houston is the team to do it as they have been steamrolling teams over the past couple of months. That being said, though, I believe oddsmakers have made them just a little bit too big of a favorite in this matchup against a very well-coached, veteran team in San Antonio. The Rockets are on an 11-game winning streak and have won 17 of their last 18. I think the issue for them tonight is they’ll be facing one of the NBA's best defensive teams. San Antonio has been good defending from the interior, ranking fourth in opponent shooting efficiency and allowing opponents to shoot just 35.2 percent from distance. Although Houston has been efficient on the season, I think San Antonio should take this game to the final few minutes. I doubt if they pull off the upset but this should be a good matchup that goes down to the wire.

The pick: San Antonio +7.5Best Line Offered: At Heritage
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