The Golden State Warriors are huge favorites (-4000) to win their second-round series versus the Utah Jazz. Game 1 gets underway at Oracle Arena on Tuesday night (10:30 p.m. ET), the Dubs laying 13 points for the opener.
The Jazz are the only team to beat Golden State in its last 20 games. The Warriors are 19-1 SU and 13-4-3 ATS since March 12, covering the number by 5.2 points per game. There are a couple of caveats to Utah’s upset win as well: Golden State head coach Steve Kerr sat Klay Thompson and trimmed his other star’s minutes having already clinched a playoff spot. The Warriors average 115.3 points per game during the run, shooting an eye-opening 40.2 percent from the 3-point area. Improved defending is the primary force behind the streak, however. The unit is yielding 100.2 points per game on 41.8 percent from the floor.
Since star center Rudy Gobert became a full-time starter in 2015, the Jazz are 1-6 SU and 3-4 ATS versus Golden State. Utah averages 93.7 points per game, cracking the century mark twice. The defense has allowed 103 points or more in all but the last meeting where Thompson and much of the first team slashed their minutes. The three Jazz covers occurred in the only meetings they were able to score more than 40 points in the paint. Gobert put up his most points in the trio of contests with 20, 17, and 13 points respectively. The leading Defensive Player of the Year must make his mark on offense if Utah backers hope to cash. In the games the Jazz failed to beat the number, Gobert scored 11, 11, and 9 points, and missed playing in one altogether.
Tempo will be the biggest hurdle for the Jazz in this series. In order to win, they’ll have to slow down the Dubs. Utah played at the slowest rate in the NBA with 93.6 possessions per game. It slowed down the Clippers to fewer than 91 possessions for most of the first-round series, turning each contest into a grind-it-out affair where the defense could shine. The Warriors were the fourth quickest team in the league with 102.2 possessions per game. In three matchups this season, the pace fell roughly in the middle at 97.5 possessions.
Versus winning teams with a possession rate higher than 96, Utah was just 6-13 SU and ATS on the road. The team lacks the offensive firepower to keep up in most games, scoring more than the NBA average of 105 points in all but four games.
Since 2002, the top seed is just 8-5 SU and 6-7 ATS in Game 1 versus a five seed in the second round. The 13-point spread in this matchup is the highest of all. Only three other teams have spotted double-digit points. Two covered, but the Miami Heat suffered a humiliating 93-86 loss to the Bulls in 2013 laying 12 points at tip-off. Every No. 1 that lost in this spot shot less than 44.5 percent from the floor. This is the same rate the Jazz allowed opponents for the year.
Since Steph Curry and company came to prominence in 2014, Utah averages just 89.5 points per game at Oracle Arena. In six trips, the Jazz have lost by 13 points or more in all but one. The Warriors defense should stifle Utah, particularly late in the contest. Nonetheless, the Jazz defense will keep Golden State near the century mark. Under 206.5 is the NBA pick for this on.