The Phoenix Suns and the Utah Jazz have been the top two teams in the NBA for some time now, and while they will remain the top two through Thursday night, the order may be flipped. The Utah Jazz are finally dealing with some serious injury concerns and have been struggling in the interim, while some less serious ailments have been slowing the Phoenix Suns of late as well. Can the Suns win on Thursday and tie the Jazz atop the Western Conference?
Free Picks: Phoenix Suns vs. Utah Jazz
Western Conference’s Best Of The Best Meet In A Desert Clash (Season Betting Record: 89-96)
While seemingly every other contending team was dealing with one or several major issues to a star player, the Phoenix Suns and Utah Jazz continued to cruise along without the slightest nick, bump, or bruise. They’ve both now reached the end of that line, though the Jazz have definitely come away the worst of the two squads.
Their best player, guard Donovan Mitchell, is slated to miss his seventh straight game with an ankle injury, and while they went 3-0 to start the season without Spida when he was merely out here and there, they have gone just 3-3 in his recent stay on the disabled list. That stretch includes back-to-back losses to the Minnesota Timberwolves (!) as well as a defeat at the hands of the undermanned Los Angeles Lakers.
Utah’s success this season has certainly been down to a group effort, but Mitchell is the head of the group, and without him, it seems the team has started to struggle with consistency. They bounced back from those embarrassing losses to Minnesota with a 49-point win over the Sacramento Kings on Wednesday night.
Point guard Mike Conley, who’s reemergence this season has been one of the main catalysts for the team’s success, is also likely to be unavailable on Thursday night considering he was ruled out for Wednesday’s contest nearly a full day before tipoff. They put a whooping on the Kings without arguably their two best players, but can the Jazz keep pace with the Suns with this depleted roster?
The Suns also have some injury woes of their own with forwards Dario Saric and Jae Crowder both missing multiple consecutive games recently. Their statuses for Thursday night remain unclear, but over the past few games when big man DeAndre Ayton has gone out and their opposition has gone to a small-ball lineup, the absences of skilled and mobile forwards like Saric and Crowder have been glaringly obvious.
Luckily for the Suns, the Jazz aren’t heavy on strong wing players, instead finding most of their success in the backcourt and with their colossus at center, the Stifle Tower, Rudy Gobert. Ayton isn’t a great defender, but he’s got the size to cause Gobert problems and has the post-game to give the big Frenchman issues on defense too.
It also helps that Monty Williams’ boys are coming into this one after being able to catch their breath a little bit following a ridiculous stretch of six games in 10 days during which they played on the road to five of the top six teams in the Eastern Conference in a row before meeting the Los Angeles Clippers at home on Wednesday.
Phoenix has also been on a bit of a run in this particular matchup. After dropping seven in a row to the Jazz over the span of two years, the Suns have now won the last three straight meetings, including a thrilling overtime matchup earlier this month and a double-digit triumph early on in the season on New Year’s Eve.
Chris Paul and company have been solid when they come into their own arena as the favorites, going 19-10 against the spread in those situations. They’ve also put up a solid 21-12 overall ATS mark at the Phoenix Suns Arena this season. The Jazz haven’t been the road dog often this season, but they are 1-2 ATS when that has been the case, for what that small sample size is worth.
Both squads enter this clash on equal rest as well, which means they’re coming in on a regular one day on, one day off schedule. The Jazz have not been great in these situations, going just 20-16 ATS, while the Suns have been excellent, amassing a 21-10-1 ATS record during this campaign, the second best such mark in the NBA. Can you guess who our NBA pick is going to be yet?
This may have seemed like an obvious pick, and it sort of was with Utah’s current injury situation. Thankfully, sportsbooks are actually giving the Suns a very reasonable -2.5 point spread at lovely -116 NBA odds, so we’re not going to think twice and we’re going to take the Phoenix spread as one of our top picks for today.
- Phoenix is 19-10 ATS as the home favorite this season
- Utah is 3-3 SU since Donovan Mitchell’s ankle injury
- Phoenix is 21-12 ATS at home this season
- Phoenixs is 15-4-1 ATS when they are a favorite of under 5 points
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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.