The Utah Jazz have been a revelation for the NBA this season and the definition of dominant since their tame 4-4 start, after which they won 21 of their next 23 games, with 19 victories coming by double-digits. The Jazz haven’t just been beating teams, they’ve been dismantling them. That’s bad news for the Lakers, who have been flapping in the wind lately with two of their best players out in Anthony Davis (calf/Achilles, out until post-All-Star Break) and Dennis Schroder (health and safety protocols, expected back on Friday).
Free Picks: Utah Jazz vs. Los Angeles Lakers
Jazz To Exert Western Conference Dominance Over Defending Champs (Season Betting Record: 44-41)
After a strong start to their title-defending campaign, the Lakers have hit a rut without the pair of Davis and Schroder. They have lost four of their last five games, including their most recent one, an overtime loss to the 11-17 Wizards. Even before that they were struggling, however. They needed to overcome a double-digit deficit in the first quarter to beat the Grizzlies (13-14) last week, and in the three games before that L.A. needed overtime to beat the Pistons (8-22) and the Thunder (12-19) twice.
While you’d think it was the Brow that was the big loss, LeBron James and company may actually be missing the new addition more. While the Lakeshow has gone 5-1 with Davis out and Schroder in, they have yet to win a game with the German point guard away from the team.
Schroder and his hounding defense will again be unavailable for the Lakers on Wednesday due to those medical protocols, which should have Donovan Mitchell and Mike Conley licking their chops. The Lakers have been getting gashed by backcourt duos in Schroder’s absence: the small, guard-heavy Nets dominated L.A. all night, Kendrick Nunn and Jimmy Butler combined for 51 points in the loss to Miami, and Russell Westbrook and Bradley Beal went off for 55 points, 21 rebounds, and 15 assists in L.A.’s last game.
Considering the state of these two teams and Schroder’s imminent return on Friday, there’s no reason to expect a jump in quality from this Lakers outfit against the best team in basketball. While the Jazz have put together an elite 12-5 mark against the current top eight teams in both conferences, L.A. has gone just 5-7 against that same group. One of our best bets for today is Utah’s -6.5 NBA point spread at -139 NBA odds.
Another of our top picks for this big Western Conference showdown is the over on Mitchell’s 24.5 points prop at decent -125 NBA odds. We’re catching Mitchell at a very attractive number here considering he’s been pouring in 27.4 points per night through 11 February games, in seven of which he topped 25 points.
Spida has shown that he spins his best web when he’s had one day off between games: when that’s the case, Mitchell is averaging 27.1 points in 17 games this season, nearly five more points than his next best split. His 28.7 points per matchup with the Lakers last season also bodes well considering the backcourt defense will be similar without Schroder in there to cause trouble.
Our third and final NBA pick of the day concerns a Laker who has been settling into a nice role in the rotation recently: Kyle Kuzma. Over the past three games with AD and Schroder out and LeBron looking for other sidekicks, Kuz has started and contributed 16, 23, and 14 points.
In the seven games that Kuzma has started in Davis’ place this season, the former Ute has averaged 16.7 points. If he starts again on Wednesday that should put him in great shape to hit the over on his 15.5 points total at solid -111 odds, which is another of our favorite props of the day. If for some reason Kuzma does not start, this bet becomes a lot less attractive, though.
- Utah has won 12 of 17 games against winning teams this season
- Los Angeles is 10-6 SU against winning teams this season
- Utah is 13-3 ATS at home this season
- Donovan Mitchell has averaged 27.4 points in 11 February games
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The Los Angeles Clippers will renew hostilities with the Dallas Mavericks, who they dispatched in the first round of last season’s playoffs.
The Denver Nuggets and the league’s presumptive NBA MVP will look to get off to a strong start against the Portland Trail Blazers in Game 1.
The Golden State Warriors will host the Memphis Grizzlies in the final play-in game, which will determine the Western Conference’s eighth seed.
The Washington Wizards will host the Indiana Pacers on Thursday night with the No. 8 seed in the Eastern Conference on the line.
Alex is an alumnus of Ryerson University's RTA Sport Media program, a contributing NHL, NBA, and MLB writer in the BetPicks.ca team. He has been writing on sports, betting, and fantasy contests for several years, including pitstops as an NFL Editor for theScore and as one of the lead NBA news writers for fantasy sports site FantasyPros. As a lifelong athlete, bettor, and sports fan, Alex is uniquely qualified to help you reach the sports betting success that you've always dreamed of and your wife never believed you could achieve.