Injuries may have ravaged the 10-11 Utah Jazz and 8-11 Los Angeles Clippers, but the two Western Conference squads continue to charge through their schedule and face each other today (10:30 p.m. ET).
On top of the injuries, both squads are working with a lot of new personnel. Utah has new rotation players like Ricky Rubio, Donovan Mitchell, Thabo Sefolosha, Jonas Jerebko and Ekpe Udoh that it is still integrating. Los Angeles is working in Lou Williams, Sindarius Thornwell, Willie Reed, Sam Dekker and Montrezl Harrell. The Clippers also have a few of their key offseason additions on the sidelines with injuries.
All that to say, the Jazz and Clippers have played well recently. Both squads have won their last three games, and Utah has even won them by an average of 24 points.
Which of these persistent squads will come out on top tonight? A few storylines stick out. This preview will highlight those, then offer our betting predictions and picks on how the betting lines will play out.
Can Derrick Favors Win His Matchup Against the Clippers’ DeAndre Jordan?
One beneficiary of Rudy Gobert’s injury has been Favors. The Jazz big man has shown that he is best suited to playing center, a spot that normally belongs to Gobert. In his last five games, the 26-year-old Favors has put up 19.4 points, 8 rebounds, 2.6 assists and 1.8 blocks on 70.9 percent shooting in just 28.4 minutes per game.
Favors’ strong play on both ends of the floor will be tested against the Clippers’ Jordan. Jordan is just as big as Favors, but with more explosiveness. Favors does have an advantage in overall skill, but it won’t be easy to use that against the bouncy, defensive-minded Jordan.
Can the Clippers Be More Careful With the Ball?
One clear disadvantage to the Clippers missing key ball-handling guards is that they are struggling to move the ball well without turning it over. Los Angeles has the fifth-worst assist-to-turnover ratio in the NBA.
Lou Williams and Austin Rivers are score-first guards, not facilitators. Williams, in particular, has averaged just below five turnovers per game in his last six contests.
Utah is a pesky defensive team that likes going for steals. Jazz opponents turn the ball over 17.5 times per contest, which is the most in the league. The Clippers will need to watch out for the quick hands of perimeter players Ricky Rubio, Donovan Mitchell, Thabo Sefolosha and Joe Ingles.
Can Ricky Rubio Find and Convert On Open Outside Shot Attempts?
Rubio has had a very mediocre season thus far as the Jazz’s point guard. His shooting has been extremely inconsistent, and his assist-to-turnover ratio is easily a career low.
His shooting numbers are very important for Utah, though. He shoots 45 percent from the field and 38.8 percent from three-point range when the Jazz win, but just 33.3 percent from the field and 16.7 from long distance when the Jazz lose.
Against the Clippers’ weak backcourt defense, Rubio should get some nice looks from the outside. He and the Jazz need to make a point of getting him into a shooting rhythm. When that happens, the veteran guard can then have driving lanes opened up for him to make his trademark sweet assists.
Our Preview’s Utah Jazz vs. Los Angeles Clippers Betting Picks & Predictions
While Los Angeles has recovered from its nine-game losing streak with three straight wins, none of them have been impressive. They’ve all been by 13 points or fewer and against teams with records worse than the Jazz.
Utah, meanwhile, has faced better competition in its streak, and it has won by at least 13 points in all of the games. So, coming to our betting picks and predictions, this preview expects the Jazz to take this one on the road.
When there are uncertainties as to the line-ups in these NBA matchups, the top 10 USA sportsbooks avoid posting their betting lines until very late. That is the case with this game. Nevertheless we have some strong views and guidance regards our picks:
- We anticipate the Jazz will be half point or one point favorites on the spread. Given all the circumstances, including Utah’s far superior depth and steadier point guard play, we expect the Jazz to win this NBA game and cover that spread.
- Without Rudy Gobert manning the middle, the Jazz are an unpredictable defensive team. Also, the Clippers’ poor depth and backcourt defense could mean a fast pace in this game. We expect the points total to be set around the 199 to 200 mark. At that level we would advise betting the over.