Jazz vs. Spurs to go Under for our NBA Picks

Jason Lake

Wednesday, January 15, 2014 1:26 PM GMT

It’s time once again to spin the NBA betting roulette wheel on the San Antonio Spurs. Joining them Wednesday night will be the Utah Jazz, who are stuck in a zigzag pattern of their own.

Jason’s record on his early NBA picks for 2013-14, up to January 14 inclusive:

43-31-1 ATS

12-9 Totals

Good Lord, the disease is spreading. I’ve mocked the San Antonio Spurs (30-8 SU, 20-18 ATS) for failing to gain any traction against the basketball betting lines; now the Utah Jazz (13-26 SU, 17-20-2 ATS) have fallen into something of a zigzag pattern, alternating between wins and losses – with a push thrown in for good measure – in their last eight games. Something tells me I’ll be recommending the total in Wednesday’s matchup, where the opening NBA odds were still pending as we went to press.

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Male-Pattern Badness

To be fair, the Spurs did manage to win back-to-back games ATS for the first time since Dec. 19, beating the Dallas Mavericks 112-90 and then the Minnesota Timberwolves 104-86 four days later, both as 5.5-point home favorites. But the Spurs followed that up with a 101-95 win over the New Orleans Hornets, who were 7-point puppies at home. So what’s going to happen on Wednesday (8:00 p.m. ET, ESPN)? Might as well ask Sage Steele.

Meanwhile, the Jazz are coming off a 118-103 upset over the Denver Nuggets (–6), snapping Denver’s five-game winning streak. Nice, but the last time Utah earned two consecutive paydays was Dec. 13, also at Denver’s expense. At least these two sort-of-zigzag patterns line up so that Utah is “due” for an ATS loss at the same time San Antonio is “due” for a win. Those are ironic quotation marks, in case I didn’t make myself clear enough.

More OVER

So how about those NBA totals? They’ve been difficult to pin down, as well, although it’s not a game-to-game situation. The Spurs have put together one of the best OVER records in the league at 23-14-1, thanks to their impressive No. 3-ranked offense (108.0 points per 100 possessions) outstripping their solid No. 5-ranked defense (98.9 points allowed/100). However, the UNDER got paid in each of San Antonio’s last three outings.

As for the Jazz, they’ve split things fairly evenly on the season at 20-19 for the UNDER, even though they’re dead last in the league in defensive efficiency (107.9 points allowed/100) compared to “only” No. 23 in the offensive rankings (99.4 points/100). However, Utah currently has the OVER on a 4-0 streak. Wonderful.

The Price of Heroes

Oh, it gets better. If you look at the last 12 regular-season games between the Spurs and Jazz dating back to the start of the 2010-11 campaign, the Spurs have a very slight 6-5-1 ATS advantage, and the over/under has been carved 50/50. Six of one, half a dozen the other. But it’s not quite fair to look beyond the start of this season, given that the Jazz got rid of their two best players over the summer, Al Jefferson (20.9 PER last year) and Paul Millsap (19.8 PER).

In which case, if you don’t mind the small sample size of two games (and of course you should), we’ve finally got something coherent:

Nov. 15: Jazz 82, Spurs 91 (UTAH +10, UNDER 193)

Dec. 14: Jazz 84, Spurs 100 (SA –7, UNDER 196)

Hallelujah, both games went UNDER the posted total. And that could certainly be the case again on Wednesday considering how many people could be sitting this one out. Danny Green (12.9 PER) and Tiago Splitter (17.6 PER) are definitely unavailable for San Antonio, while Gordon Hayward (16.8 PER) and Marvin Williams (10.9 PER) will be game-time decisions for Utah. That’s why the basketball lines have yet to be released for this matchup. It’s a blind pick with not a lot of certitude behind it, but “pass” is not one of my options for the purposes of this column. Place your NBA bets accordingly.

NBA Pick: Take the UNDER