In the final game of the evening, the Jazz head into Sacramento to play the Kings, and the NBA Odds have the Kings as slight -2 favorites, with a total of 205 ½. With the Jazz still dealing with some injury concerns, how should we attack this late Western Conference game tonight?
Stifle Tower Down
Big news came out of the Jazz camp a few days ago with Rudy Gobert going down with a significant MCL sprain that has him out indefinitely. With Dante Exum already done for the year with a torn ACL, the Jazz’s once powerful defense is taking some hits it may not be able to recover from. Tonight’s matchup against the Kings doesn’t present an intense battle, but the Kings have their two best players at PG and C tonight, which is where the Jazz are lacking defensively the most now.
Derrick Favors was fantastic in Utah’s last game against Indiana, but that was against light resistance in the frontcourt. Now tonight against DeMarcus Cousins, Favors is going to have his hands full. If he gets into foul trouble, it will put a big strain on the Jazz offense, because Gordon Hayward has been struggling.
The Kings have lost five of their last six games SU, but they were also very vocal about their need to play better. If they can fire on all cylinders tonight, even without their rookie lottery pick, Willie Caulie-Stein, the Kings could win this game.
The Sharp Pick
It is for this reason that I am laying off the spread for this game, and instead going with a play on the total. While their defense might or might not be worse without Gobert, it shouldn’t kill the Jazz defense tonight against a Kings team that can be prone to long stretches of misses. Even with their offense averaging nearly 105 points per game, the Jazz are limiting their opponents to under 45% from the field this season, and they also play at the slowest pace of any team this season at 95.1.
If Utah can successfully slow this game down, we can take advantage of the total being bet up enough to where the under looks like a good play. Even though he is known for his defense, the Jazz are slightly better on defense this season with Gobert not on the court. Plus, the Jazz are 11-7 cashing the under this season, while the Kings are a pedestrian 11-11 this season on totals.
If the Jazz are good enough tonight in their transition defense, they are not going to allow the Kings to be a run and gun team. If it comes down to a half court battle, the under is looking like the best play for this game. Cousins has just as much of a chance at foul trouble defending Favors tonight, and if that happens along with the Kings being slowed down, the under is going to cash easily in this one. I see a final score of 101-98 in this one, and I am taking the under to add to my NBA Picks tonight.
My Pick: UNDER 205 ½