NBA Picks: Trail Blazers vs. Jazz

Joe Catalano

Friday, February 1, 2013 3:26 PM GMT

Friday, Feb. 1, 2013 3:26 PM GMT

The Portland Trail Blazers (23-22) at the Utah Jazz (25-21) is a matchup of two teams in a similar position, battling it out in the tough Western Conference. Which side of the NBA lines are we on?

And it’s games like this that decide who’s going to the playoffs and who’s going home?

Tip-off is scheduled for Friday, 9:00 pm ET at Energy Solutions Arena in Salt Lake City, Utah.

5 Dimes Sportsbook currently has the Jazz as a 5 point NBA betting odds favorite and the total for the game is 196.

Both teams are coming into this game after strong wins, but it’s Portland who’s coming into this game not having played since Tuesday.

Will the extra rest help or hurt the Blazers against a Utah Jazz team as Portland enters a loud Energy Solutions Arena?

Jazz Inconsistency

Part of the reason why the Jazz are currently in the number 7 position in the Western Conference and constantly battling is the lack of consistency from their top two players, Paul Millsap and Al Jefferson. Portland’s starters don’t show the lack of consistency that these two men show.

Usually when one player has an average or sub-par game, the other player excels; it’s a rotating process. In their last game against a young and talented New Orleans team, both stars played well and it led to a hard fought, come from behind victory.

With a lack of production from the point guard position, Jefferson and Millsap took the game into their own hands as they combined for 47 points on 17 of 30 shooting from the field. They can’t pinpoint what they’re going to get from the rest of the team. The Jazz need AJ and Millsap to raise their level of play against a very large and talented Portland squad.

Do Me a Favor

Forward, Derrick Favors has been the perfect complimentary bench player this season. You give Favors his 20-25 minutes per game and you’ll know that you’ll get double digit points, solid shooting, physical defense, and board protection. If needed, Favors can slip into the starting lineup, but the bench suits him well. Favors has shot 57.5% from the field in his last 5 games and look for him to play well defensively against a talented Portland starting 5.

A Baffling Team

When a team has Batum, Aldridge, Lillard, Hickson, and Matthews as their starting five, you’d expect a 50 win season. This is a one of the best starting group in the league and yet they sit just 1 game above .500?

If last game’s victory against Minnesota is any indication of how Portland operates, now we know why. Against the Wolves, every Portland starter scored in double figures led by LaMarcus Aldridge with 29 points and 13 rebounds and J.J. Hickson with 26 points and 15 rebounds. The starters scored a total of 92 out of Portland’s 106 points. The bench appears to be the weakness. You’re going to get good defense out of Jared Jefferies, but –from being a Knicks fan –he couldn’t hit the side of a barn when shooting. The Portland starters will need to carry this team further as they meet Utah.

Rookie of the Year

One position that Portland can really expose is the point guard. While Utah has nothing to offer, the Blazers have Damian Lillard. Lillard has been a superstar since he’s entered the NBA. This is a player that’s well beyond his years where maturity and confidence are concerned. Lillard is coming off of a sub-standard effort against the Wolves. Look for him to play better against a team with no legitimate point guard in the Jazz. He could be the difference in this matchup of two equal teams.

[gameodds]5/194563/43/us[/gameodds]

Head to Head Trends

Under is 4-0 in the last 4 meetings in Utah

Road team is 4-1 with the NBA spreads in the last 5 meetings

Outcome

Portland is well rested and should come “blazing” out of the gates with their “fab 5”. Look for Damian Lillard to play a major role in this game. Despite their poor road record, Portland has more talent than Utah and you’ll see that tonight. Look for the Blazers to cover with you NBA betting.

Free NBA Picks: Portland +5 at 5 Dimes

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