NBA Picks: Win Big With Utah's Elite Defense Over Blazers

Steven Suarez

Wednesday, November 4, 2015 4:18 PM GMT

The Jazz have picked up right where they left off defensively from last season, and they've been installed as the NBA odds-on favorites for tonight's home tilt with Portland.

Odds Overview
At time of writing, we were seeing the Jazz favored by 5.5 points on the NBA odds board, and it was a number that was holding steady across all of the top online sportsbooks.

The total is currently listed at 189 points, a low number that's to be expected when you consider how dominant Utah has been defensively this season (and over the second half of last season). 

 

Utah Jazz
The Jazz have opened the season with three straight road games, and they have to be pleased with their results. Though they fell short in the opener in Detroit, they've since responded by beating Philadelphia (99-71) and Indiana (97-76) in blowout fashion.

Thanks mostly to a straight up beastly defense, Utah has gotten off to a nice start. This is a team that's allowed just 79.7 points on average through its first three games, an extremely impressive number, and there's little reason to expect things to change, as we saw similar performances to close out last season. The Jazz have dedicated themselves to being one of the most dominant defensive teams out there, and their early returns have been very promising.

Individually, Derrick Favors has played well to start the season, averaging 21.3 points and 8.3 rebounds through the three games. Rodney Hood, Alec Burks and Gordan Hayward are all averaging in double figures too, though it should be noted that Hayward has been underperforming in general (12.0 PPG on 35.3 percent shooting). Don't forget about Rudy Gobert (7.7 PPG, 13.3 RPG, 3.7 BPG) either, as he's been the main reason why Utah has transformed themselves defensively.

 

Portland Trail Blazers
One of the teams that saw the most changes over the offseason, the Trail Blazers are still trying to find their identity. They lost LaMarcus Aldridge, Nicolas Batum, Wesley Matthews and Robin Lopez from last season's group, and that's obviously a lot of talent that they've had to try and replace.

We're not expecting a playoff challenge or anything from Portland, but we've at least been encouraged to see Damian Lillard and C.J. McCollum combine to form a potent backcourt pairing. Lillard is averaging 25.5 points, 8.0 assists and 3.5 rebounds per game, while McCollum has been good for 21.5 PPG, 5.3 RPG and 3.0 APG, while shooting 39.3 percent from three. Al-Farouq Aminu, who was with Dallas last season, appears to be the team's third scoring option, having averaged 14.5 points and 7.0 rebounds a contest thus far, with no other member of the team reaching double-digit averages in scoring.

Lillard, McCollum, Aminu and the Trail Blazers just outlasted the Timberwolves in their latest matchup, and now will look to make it two in a row in Utah. 

 

Final Analysis
The Trail Blazers are feeling good after a morale-boosting road win over Minnesota, but we see them having a much tougher time in Salt Lake City this evening.

Simply put, this Utah defense has been elite, and they should be up for the challenge of stopping a formidable backcourt duo of Lillard and McCollum. If the Jazz are able to do that, they're unlikely to be hurt elsewhere on the court, save for maybe Aminu, who's stepped into a larger role now with his new team.

On the other side of the equation, we're having a hard time picturing Portland slowing down a scary frontcourt tandem of Favors and Gobert, who have proven they're going to make life very difficult on opponents all season long. Put it all together and we're not too worried about the reasonably big spread -- we'll gladly put our faith in the Jazz as the NBA pick to win by at least six in their home debut this season.

NBA Pick: Utah Jazz -5.5 at BetOnline

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