NBA Picks: Don't Sleep on the Bucks & Fade the Jazz +8

Steven Suarez

Thursday, January 22, 2015 4:43 PM GMT

Thursday, Jan. 22, 2015 4:43 PM GMT

The Bucks lost their last time out on the court, but they'll have a great opportunity to get back on the winning side at home versus the Jazz tonight. Our NBA odds preview can be found inside.

Odds Overview
The Jazz are getting eight points to play with here tonight, which is a pretty large spread. This just goes to show you how improved the Bucks have been this season, as Utah hasn't been doing well, but at the same time hasn't exactly been god awful. Milwaukee has progressed significantly and is getting priced like it by odds makers.

If you're interested in making a play on the total, the O/U is listed at a modest number of 186, which is easily the lowest of Thursday's four-game slate. Indeed, a defensive struggle seems likely.

 

Milwaukee Bucks
The Bucks are 21-20 on the year, which if you can believe, is good enough for the sixth seed in the Eastern Conference. It's a gross reminder of just how bad that conference is when compared to the mighty Western Conference. That 21-20 record would be good for 10th place in the Western Conference, right behind the Oklahoma City Thunder.

So yeah, Milwaukee definitely benefits by playing in the East, but that doesn't mean we can dish out credit elsewhere. Jason Kidd was getting a lot of hate when he jumped ship from Brooklyn and latched on to the Milwaukee job, but it turns out he can actually coach. The Bucks are embodying their leader by fighting hard each and every night, and they've made huge improvements as a result.

More recently, Milwaukee hasn't been all that reliable, however. The Bucks have alternated wins and losses over their previous four contests and are an even 4-4 in their past eight games overall. Their wins, in addition, didn't come over the best of competition either, as they beat the Knicks twice, as well as Philadelphia and Minnesota. Still, Brandon Knight has been playing very well at the point, and the Greek Freak has been doing great things too. This team shouldn't be slept on.

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Utah Jazz
It's been a struggle for the Jazz lately, as they've lost five of their last six games to fall to 14-28 overall. Utah has gotten used to this losing thing over the last few seasons, but they do have the talent in place to turn things around. 

The early returns this year, however, have not been good for first-year coach Quin Snyder. It's not easy to compete in the loaded West, but it could be argued that the Jazz should be doing a lot better than they have been. Trey Burke, Derrick Favors and Gordon Hayward are all great players, and there are some other nice pieces like Rudy Gobert and the injured Alec Burks.

With the way they've been playing, some would be inclined to fade the Jazz, but this is one spot where the points just may be too enticing to pass up. Utah has been blown out two games in a row, but we don't see a three-peat happening here.

 

NBA Pick
We're not going anywhere near that low total, as we think the number is right on the money there. Instead, we are going to take the points and look for Utah to stay reasonable close tonight.

The Jazz may not have the record to show for it, but they do have quite a bit of good young talent. Burke, Hayward and Favors have all had great stretches this season, and Gobert has shown a lot of promise too. We do think that group will be able to make enough plays to keep Utah hanging around in this matchup.

With that NBA odds board showing a very tiny O/U, we think taking an eight-point head start may not be the worst way to go. We're backing the Jazz to cover as dogs tonight.

NBA Pick: Utah Jazz +8 at The Greek

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