NBA Picks: Expect Lakers To Come Up Short In Kobe's Farewell vs. Jazz

Jay Pryce

Wednesday, April 13, 2016 1:33 PM GMT

The legendary Kobe Bryant bids farewell when the Lakers host the Jazz in the regular-season finale for both teams on Wednesday night. We got your game NBA pick and analysis here.

Utah Jazz (40-41 SU, 41-38-2 ATS)
This game will be remembered for Bryant's farewell, but it has postseason implications for the Jazz. They are neck-and-neck with the Rockets for the eighth seed in the Western Conference, but currently lose out on the playoffs due to the tiebreaker. Utah needs a Houston loss to Sacramento, and a victory over L.A. to secure its first run for a title since the 2011-12 season.

Utah is really good against bad opposition. When up against a team with a record at or below .500, and favored to win, it is 26-6 SU and 22-10 ATS. The defense, which ranks seventh in the NBA in efficiency allowing 104.3 points per 100 possessions, is the difference-maker. It holds foes to 88.5 points on 40.8 percent shooting in the aforementioned scenario. The UNDER is 20-8-4 with the Jazz keeping opponents below their team total in 26 of the matchups.

The defense will be without starting center Rudy Gobert for this one. The big-man sprained his right ankle in Wednesday's 101-92 defeat to the Mavericks and did not travel with the team to L.A. Gobert missed 20 games this season. The Jazz went 7-13 SU and 9-11 ATS, losing to the number by nearly two points per game as opponents put up 100.4 points. In the lineup, the team went 33-28 SU and 32-27-2 ATS, performing a little more than two points better than the spread. Utah held teams to 94.3 points with the shot-blocking presence protecting the paint.

 

Los Angeles Lakers (16-65 SU, 35-45-1 ATS)
Five-time NBA champion, two-time NBA Finals MVP, 18-time All Star, two-time scoring champ, these are just a few of the many accolades for one of this generation's greatest players. His farewell season has been tough to stomach, however. The Lakers are atrocious and Kobe carried multiple injuries and nursed a host of aches and pains all year. But coach Byron Scott announced the third-leading scorer in NBA history will play 37 minutes-plus in his final game, and you can bet teammates will feed him the ball on every possession. It could make for a wide-open affair that soars over the total.

Which may stick to the script when Bryant suits up this season. Kobe missed 16 games on the year. The Lakers went 4-12 SU (7-9 ATS), losing by a 8.5 points per contest. The UNDER went 15-1 with the Lakers scoring just 92.2 points and allowing 100.7. With Kobe logging a minute or more of playtime, offense improved, defense got a little leakier, and the pace quickened. The Lakers went 12-53 SU (28-36-1 ATS), outscored by 10.0 points per game. L.A. scored 98.6 points, but yielded 108.6.

The Lakers have dropped their last four in a row SU and ATS to the Jazz. They scored 14.8 points below market projections on average during this span, held to 73, 74, 82, and 75 points. Yikes.

 

Final Analysis
Utah will face a difficult and emotional crowd tonight at the Staples Center, but this is a must-win matchup for the Jazz. Despite many idolizing Bryant, don't expect the young visitors to make it easy for the former MVP. The Lakers are a type of team the Jazz defense devours. In six matchups since Quinn Snyder took over as coach, L.A. has scored more than 85 points just once. Gobert will be missed, though. Because of the unusual circumstances, I'd normally sit this one out, but with so much to play for, Utah -6 on the NBA odds or shorter is tonight's NBA pick.

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Free NBA Pick: Jazz -5.5
Best Line Offered: at Intertops