NBA Picks: Can the Recently Improved Jazz Measure Up to the Warriors Tonight?

David Lawrence

Saturday, March 21, 2015 11:46 AM GMT

Saturday, Mar. 21, 2015 11:46 AM GMT

The Golden State Warriors and Utah Jazz go head-to-head on Saturday night. While the Warriors are headed for the playoffs and the Jazz are not, this could be a matchup that’s closer than expected. The Warriors are a big favorite on the NBA betting lines.

The Utah Jazz Can Win Because…
Their opponent could very easily relax, and because Utah was simply tired in its sluggish performance against Los Angeles on Thursday. Utah had just played a game Wednesday night against Washington, so the back-to-back made Utah a listless team against the Lakers on Thursday. With a day of rest on Friday, Utah should be able to play a lot better. The great news for the Jazz is that during their six-game winning streak from March 6 through March 16, they didn’t play a single back-to-back. Getting out of that back-to-back rut certainly helps the Jazz to play at or near their best. With Rudy Gobert grabbing at least 14 rebounds in eight of his last nine games and being a defensive monster for the Jazz, this team has found a way to contain its opponents. Utah is continuing to hold opponents well under 95 points. The highest point total the Jazz have allowed over the past three weeks? 91 points, to Houston, on March 12… in an 18-point victory. That’s how well this team is defending right now, but even so, they're listed as short underdogs tonight on the NBA odds.

 

The Golden State Warriors Can Win Because…
They just crushed the Atlanta Hawks and easily looked like the best team in the NBA in the process. Golden State put on a clinic against the team that will have the number one seed in the Eastern Conference playoffs. On Wednesday, the Warriors played one of their best games of the season. They hit 52.4 percent of their shots, and they held Atlanta to 35.6 percent shooting. The Warriors made 14 of 30 threes, while Atlanta hit only eight in 22 attempts. The Warriors assisted on 39 of their 44 made field goals, which is absolutely ridiculous. Very few teams play that well and move the ball with such effectiveness. The Warriors were so good that they were able to take a 29-point lead midway through the fourth quarter against an NBA Finals contender. The Hawks might have been tired near the end of a long Western road swing, but the Warriors still had to play really well to beat the Hawks that easily. This is a team that is focused on getting better in time for the playoffs. Everything about this team is pretty much where it needs to be. What’s a bonus is that Andrew Bogut looked good against Atlanta, grabbing 14 rebounds and being the defensive presence this team needs if it is going to make a serious run at the NBA title.

In addition to Golden State’s impressive performance, the Jazz look a little ragged. Utah scored only 80 points on Thursday against the Los Angeles Lakers. Utah hit only 40 percent of its shots and scored only 33 points in the first half. The Jazz were saved by the fact that the Lakers made only 8 of 17 free throws. Golden State’s not going to hand Utah free points like that.

 

Outlook
We’re looking at a fairly big line here for the Warriors and you have to be careful as they are in a back-to-back situation after playing on Friday night. It’s possible they rest players. Regardless, the Jazz have been the league’s best defensive team since the All-Star break and have been on a roll with wins in seven of eight. As a growing, improving team, look for them to show up in a big way and try to measure up against the Warriors. Take them with your NBA Picks.

NBA Pick: Jazz +8.5 at Pinnacle

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