Utah's Defense and Experience Too Much for Young Lakers

Utah Jazz 2018

Doug Upstone

Saturday, April 7, 2018 7:36 PM GMT

Saturday, Apr. 7, 2018 7:36 PM GMT

The Utah Jazz are trying to solidify their position in the Western Conference as the No. 4 seed which would give them a home court advantage in the first round of the NBA Playoffs, which start next Saturday.

Utah (46-33, 41-38 ATS) vs L.A. Lakers (34-45, 41-37-1 ATS)

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Free NBA Pick: UtahBest Line Offered: at Betonline

In a cluttered Western Conference chase for playoff positioning, Utah has risen above the fray with four straight victories (2-2 ATS). Add those wins to how the Jazz started playing in early March and they are a major roll at 13-3 (8-8 ATS). This massive hot streak has propelled Utah from 10th in the West to fourth place.

Now the Jazz looks to wrap up a Round 1 home court advantage starting in Tinsel Town against the Lakers. The NBA odds have not been posted yet, but we are anticipating Utah to be in the -5 to -7 range.

Utah Controls Their Destiny

What changed for coach Quinn Snyder's club to be so dominating? It all starts with the "The Stifle Tower". Center Rudy Gobert is 7'1 and has a wingspan of 7'9 (really). Blessed with those gifts and an innate ability in timing to block shots, the Frenchman is arguably the No.1 defender in the NBA. " Gobert is a defense unto himself," Dallas Mavericks coach Rick Carlisle said before a loss in Utah last month.

[/]{"component": "embedHTML", "code": ""}[/]When he was out for 15 games with a knee injury, Utah was 4-11 and was nothing more than a playoff contender. Now the NBA's No. 2 defense in points per possession (1. 014) and scoring defense (100.1 PPG), they could even put a scare into the elite teams in the West if they can hold on to No. 4 seed.

However, basketball is a team game and rookie shooting guard Donovan Mitchell leads his club with 20.4 PPG. Trade acquisition Jae Crowder has fit right in with the Jazz and is a solid match at forward with Derrick Flavors.

Beat Up Lakers Trying to Finish Strong

As coach of the Los Angeles Lakers, Luke Walton's job is to give his team the best chance to win, no matter the circumstances. With Kyle Kuzma hurting his ankles again on Friday, his status at this time is unknown, as he has tried to gut it out for awhile now on his tender pins. If Kuzma cannot go, that means he is likely to join Brandon Ingram (concussion), Lonzo Ball (knee contusion) and Isaiah Thomas (hip) in street clothes.

It's not like the Walton gang was deep anyway, but after Brook Lopez and Kentavious Caldwell-Pope, there is a bunch of young guys trying to carve out an NBA career.

How This Game Plays Out

For NBA picks, it might make sense to consider the home underdog, because L.A. would not seem to pose as much of a threat and Utah just has to win. However, the Jazz are not in a position to be casual to lock down the four-seed and still have Golden State and at Portland to contend with.

That is why Utah comes with a focused approach again and covers the spread.

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