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Lakers vs. Jazz: NBA Picks and Predictions

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Lakers vs. Jazz: NBA Picks and Predictions
Donovan Mitchell #45 of the Utah Jazz. Alex Goodlett/Getty Images/AFP

Can the Los Angeles Lakers get back on track when they visit the red-hot Utah Jazz on Wednesday night? Here’s a complete preview, including updated odds and NBA picks.

Los Angeles Lakers vs. Utah Jazz

Wednesday, February 24, 2021 – 10:00 PM EST at Vivint Smart Home Arena

The Jazz opened as 7.5-point favorites and over at FiveThirtyEight, they have them at -8.5. This leaves a 1-point gap between the projections and the actual NBA odds. We need at least two points between the projections and the lines before we lay any serious wood. Here we are not getting enough. FiveThirtyEight gives the Jazz an 80 percent chance to win. The equivalent moneyline is -400.

For support, we turn to USA Today’s Jeff Sagarin’s projections; he has the Jazz at -3.86 using his Rating numbers, and at -5.16 using his eigenvector analysis. That leaves plenty of room to grab potential betting value with the Lakers +9 at sportsbetting.ag.

Lakers Look Lost Without AD and Schroder

The Lakers have lost four of their last five games, including three straight. They clearly aren’t playing their best basketball of the season, which is understandable because Anthony Davis (plus-4.3 Offensive Box Plus/Minus) is out for at least four weeks with calf strain and Achilles tendinosis. Slow starts and blown leads have been a problem for the Lakers recently and it has resulted in two tough overtime wins against the Thunder and a come-from-behind win against the Grizzlies.

Then, the Lakers lost 122-105 against the Nuggets in Denver, beat the Timberwolves on the road, lost at home 109-98 against the Nets (without Kevin Durant) and 96-94 against the Heat on Saturday. In their most recent game, the Lakers blew a 17-point lead in the second half and lost 127-124 in overtime against the Wizards at home on Monday.

LeBron James is carrying the Lakers, he had a team-high 31 points against the Wizards, to go along with 13 assists and nine rebounds but he was just 2-for-10 from beyond the arc. Montrezl Harrell also played well, scoring 26 points with nine rebounds in 23 minutes off the bench but he got into foul trouble late and couldn't help the Lakers pull out the win. Kentavious Caldwell-Pope and Alex Caruso also stepped up, trying to keep the team in the game but not having AD and Dennis Schroder (minus-1.8 Box Offensive Plus/Minus) has been tough to overcome.

Jazz Seem Unstoppable at Times

The Jazz are the best team in the NBA this season and they were tested recently, with games against the 76ers and a back-to-back set against the Clippers. They came away with two wins, they prevailed against the 76ers 134-123 at home, though Joel Embiid didn't play and then they split the two games with the Clippers, beating them 114-96, without Kawhi Leonard and Paul George, before losing the rematch 116-112 when they returned on Friday's game. Utah then got back on track and beat Charlotte 132-110 at home. Donovan Mitchell led the way against the Hornets with 23 points and eight assists and Joe Ingles, Georges Niang and Jordan Clarkson all scored over 20 points off the bench each. That kind of display from their reserves makes them pretty hard to beat and it's easy to see why they're 25-6 this season.

Donovan Mitchell (plus-2.8 Offensive Box Plus/Minus) has played at a high level all season long and his heroic effort in the loss against the Clippers made the game interesting down the stretch. Mike Conley came back against the Clippers, scoring 16 points in 25 minutes following a six-game absence and he had 15 points and five assists against the Hornets. Conley's presence makes the Jazz even scarier, this is a deep team with too much firepower. Utah has now won 21 of 23 games and they have the best record in the league. The Lakers will miss two of their best players but they will still be a great test for the Jazz.

Prediction

Dennis Schroder missed the game against the Nets due to health and safety protocols and he is out on Wednesday. Schroder has provided backcourt scoring to complement LeBron James and Anthony Davis and his absence can hurt the Lakers in this game, especially with AD already out.

The Lakers missed 29 3-pointers against the Wizards and they still scored 115 points in regulation and 124 points including overtime. LeBron James and Kyle Kuzma went a combined 6-for-21 (28.5 percent) from beyond the arc. I like the Over here, the Jazz are clicking on offense and the Lakers know the importance of this game, players like Kuzma and Markieff Morris have to elevate their level and LeBron will have them ready.

My Pick: Over 219.5 (-108) at Heritage Sports (visit our Heritage Sports Review)

Over 219.5(-108)
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*The pick reflects the line at the moment the writer made the play, the odds at the beginning of this article show the live line movement. Since the lines might vary, don’t forget to refer back to our live odds.