The Utah Jazz head to the Staples Center to take on the injury-riddled Los Angeles Lakers on Saturday night in a battle of top Western Conference teams. These were actually the two best teams in the conference for some time before L.A. was hit with injuries to both Anthony Davis and LeBron James. It has been an absolute nightmare scenario for the Lakers this year in terms of injuries.
Free Picks: Los Angeles Lakers vs. Utah Jazz
Top-Seeded Jazz Battle Defending-Champion Lakers On A Friday Night (Season Betting Record: 84-88)
They have actually handled these tough times surprisingly well, however, with the team picking up crucial production from the supporting cast over the past couple of weeks. The Lakers’ other guys have combined to put up a respectable 6-8 straight up record without LeBron, which has allowed them to hang around the top six in the Western Conference until the cavalry returns.
That return date will not be on Saturday, however. James is targeting a return in May from his ankle issue, while the Brow is looking at mid-week next week as his ideal time to return from a lengthy absence due to a calf issue. It’s not just the big guns for the Lakers either. Los Angeles has also been without Markieff Morris, Marc Gasol, and disappointing new addition Andre Drummond for several games apiece here and there over this recent span.
The status of all three remain up in the air for Saturday night’s clash as of this writing, but they wouldn’t really move the needle either way to be frank. Utah’s Rudy Gobert would likely struggle to deal with Davis when he’s focused and on his game, but those other three would and should be no problem for the Stifle Tower.
While Dennis Schroder has quietly been one of the best on-ball backcourt defenders in the association this season, he doesn’t have a ton of support behind him, and the Jazz have a very deep rotation of quality guards to throw out there. Ultimately, that quality depth is what will allow them to emerge with the win at Staples on Saturday night despite the absence of their own best player, Donovan Mitchell. We’re taking the Jazz’s -8.5 NBA point spread at -112 NBA odds as our best bet for today.
You might think it strange to go with a team that’s less than 24 hours from their last game, but in fact, that is precisely the reason we’re so bullish on the Jazz. Quin Snyder’s group has been great on no rest, going 8-3 against the spread on the second leg of a back-to-back this season, the second-best such mark in the NBA.
They’re also solid when they have a rest disadvantage overall, posting an impressive 9-5 ATS mark in those situations this season. It doesn’t hurt that the Lakers have been one of the worst home teams relative to their overall success during this campaign. They have posted a paltry 11-17 ATS mark at Staples this year, worse than all but five other teams, four of which are nowhere near earning a spot in the postseason.
It’s even worse for them when they play at Staples and they come into the game as the underdog. It doesn’t happen often—though it has occurred more without their top two players in the lineup—but when that is the situation, as it is against the Jazz on Saturday night, the Lakers have yet to emerge triumphant, putting up an 0-4 ATS record in that predicament.
You rarely see multi-game splits this deep into a season wherein a team has yet to win in even one instance, so when we saw that 0fer for the Lakers as home dogs, we decided the Jazz would have to be one of our top picks of the day. Utah has also dropped three straight ATS for the first time in over a month, so they’re not just due for a win, they’re due for a win by a big-time margin.
- Los Angeles is 0-4 ATS as a home underdog this year
- Los Angeles is 1-5 ATS in their last 6 against teams that have won over 60 percent of their games
- Utah is 6-0 in their last 6 games played on a Saturday
- Utah is 8-3 ATS playing on no rest this season
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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.