Tuesday, 10:30 PM EST (ESPN)
Free NBA Pick: Jazz 1st Half ATS
Best Line Offered: Bookmaker
The Utah Jazz may not have been playing well overall in the last couple of weeks, but they do have some signature wins and with the way they have been playing at home it’s impossible to fade them in a Christmas a matchup with Portland.
Recent Defense In Energy Solutions
Through the first 40 percent of the NBA season, the Jazz defense has been good and bad at times. However, if you look into some of their more recent home games, a dominating trend is starting to be established. Combine that with the Blazers’ first-half road struggles and the magnitude of playing on Christmas, and the Jazz are a great first-half play Tuesday.
Utah is a respectable 10th in first-half defensive rating when playing at home, holding opponents to 104.9 points per 100 possessions. However, if you just factor in their home games since the start of December, their dominant defense and home-court advantage seem to be coming back, especially in the first two quarters of the game. While the Jazz have only played five home games in the month, they have held opponents to just 94.4 points per 100 possessions in the first halves of those.
Utah’s home defense overall has been feared over the last few seasons, but for the first two months it was spotty and nowhere to be found some nights. If indeed that consistency is coming back, they have a great opportunity to cash a first-half NBA betting spread of -3.
The Sharp Pick
Not only have things been looking up for the Jazz at home, but the Blazers are another team where their home-court advantage plays a large role in their overall success. However, when they play on the road things get difficult sometimes.
Across 15 road games, the Blazers are only averaging 101.2 points per 100 possessions in the first halves of those contests. That ranks 28th in the NBA, with only the Chicago Bulls and the Jazz below them. We should basically call this the “home-court advantage game,’ because it is basically the story of what could be.
Utah absolutely destroyed the Blazers in Portland just a few nights ago, 120-90, bucking what has been a very home team-dominated series before that. Combine that and the fact that this game will be played on Christmas, and I see the Jazz showing out for what could be a nice home crowd. While the spread for the entire game is pretty sharp, with the first-half trends and analytics we’ve seen with both teams in their respective positions, Utah laying just -3 in the first half is a fine wager.
First Half Prediction: Jazz 56, Blazers 48