The Utah Jazz made us some money Wednesday night. Now they have to face the best team in the league, the Golden State Warriors. That hasn’t stopped early bettors from putting Utah in their NBA picks.
Jason’s record as of Jan. 28: 26-26-3 ATS, 2-4 Totals
I love it when a plan comes together. It wasn’t too difficult for us to make the Utah Jazz our official NBA pick for Wednesday’s matchup with the Los Angeles Clippers (–6.5 away), and as fate would have it, the Jazz beat the basketball odds in a 94-89 loss. Utah came pretty close to winning that game, too, before tailing off late in the fourth quarter. Center Enes Kanter (18.5 PER) was the star of the show with 21 points and 11 rebounds for the Jazz. Throw it down, big man.
While the Clippers may have their flaws, there’s not much wrong with Utah’s next opponents. The Golden State Warriors are the best team in the NBA at a sterling 36-7 SU and 28-14-1 ATS. But have we reached Peak Warrior? Golden State has dropped back-to-back games ATS as a double-digit favorite, and as if on cue, early bettors for Friday’s matchup with the Jazz (9:00 p.m. ET) have driven the NBA odds down from Utah +10 to Utah +9 as we go to press.
Eventually, however good the Warriors may be, their market value has to recede. They were 18-point home favorites last Sunday against the Boston Celtics – 18 points~! Beating another team by 18 points isn’t easy, even if it’s the Celtics. The Warriors had to settle for a 114-111 victory, dropping them to 0-2 ATS lifetime when laying at least 18 points. The other occasion was December’s 110-97 win over the Minnesota Timberwolves (+18 away).
Then the Warriors were pegged as 11-point home favorites in Tuesday’s tilt with the Chicago Bulls – the Bulls~! That was just insane, especially with all of Chicago’s Big Three playing (Derrick Rose, Pau Gasol, Joakim Noah), and Andrew Bogut sitting out for Golden State with an illness. Okay, Bogut was a late scratch, but still. Chicago won 113-111 in overtime.
Perhaps it was only a matter of time before the secret of Golden State’s greatness came out. The Warriors have been victorious on national television a few times now. People have filled out their All-Star ballots, and they voted for Stephen Curry (27.0 PER) more than anyone else. For good reason, too: Curry leads the league with 9.96 WAR and a plus-8.65 RPM, ahead of Houston’s James Harden on both counts. So much for hidden value on the West Coast.
If you’re willing to look a bit farther inland, the Jazz (16-30 SU, 24-22 ATS) have at least something to offer. They’re 14-9 ATS in their past 25 games – including 5-2 ATS as double-digit dogs – and 3-1 ATS in their last four overall. We touched briefly last time on the excellence of Derrick Favors (22.4 PER), Rudy Gobert (21.8 PER) and Gordon Hayward (19.6 PER). Now it’s time to give Kanter his due.
Which not many people have done over the years. Kanter has been something of a divisive figure because of his poor defense (minus-2.6 DBPM this year), as well as his inefficiency on offense (minus-0.9 OBPM). But his raw scoring numbers have never been better: 18.7 points per 36 minutes, and a career-high 81.4 percent at the free throw line. Pair that with his 9.9 rebounds per 36 (3.9 of those on the offensive glass), and you can see Kanter’s no tomato can.
None of this means that Gobert (plus-4.1 DBPM) shouldn’t be starting over Kanter. It just speaks to how well stocked the Utah frontcourt is. This could be extra important on Friday with Bogut (16.5 PER) expected to return from his one-game absence. How much has the big Aussie overcome his flu-like symptoms? Maybe not enough to prevent the Jazz from prolonging his headaches.
Free NBA Pick: Take the Jazz at 5Dimes