The Western Conference landscape has changed significantly this season compared to last season and it has also changed within the season.
The 28-13 Utah Jazz and 15-26 Sacramento Kings are teams heading in opposite directions, but will those trends continue as they play each other today? (9 p.m. ET Saturday).
Utah just had its 10-game winning streak snapped by the New Orleans Pelicans on Thursday with an overtime loss that included several controversial officiating decisions.
The Kings have lost 12 of their last 15 games. The young squad has had some injuries, but it also isn’t playing with the chemistry or purpose that it did last year when it challenged for a playoff berth.
We’ll discuss some questions surrounding this game and then give you some advice as you decide on betting on this game with our Sacramento Kings at Utah Jazz predictions.
Will Donovan Mitchell Embrace His Role as a Distributor?
Mitchell is an explosive third-year guard who leads the Jazz offense very well with his slashing and shooting. However, his shot selection and balance between passing and shooting can be a struggle. Considering the injury to Jazz point guard Mike Conley, Mitchell is Utah’s main floor general. Now, Conley is expected to return today, but he hasn’t played in a month and shouldn’t be counted on to provide a lot of facilitation for the team.
Recently, Mitchell’s assists are on a slight downturn following a nice stretch of facilitating from him. His last three games have produced a total of 10 assists after he had averaged 6.5 assists per contest in the 10 games before that.
Utah’s offense is at its best when Mitchell is both a scoring and passing threat. Teammates like Joe Ingles, Bojan Bogdanovic, Royce O’Neale and Rudy Gobert are all efficient offensive options, but they are best when somebody else can create good looks for them. Mitchell needs to be mindful of keeping both himself and his teammates in rhythm.
What Sort of Pace Will This Game Have?
The Kings had a surprisingly strong season last year, making a decent push for the playoffs until the last couple weeks of the season on the strength of a fast-paced transition offense. This year, they are still looking for that formula under new head coach Luke Walton and they rank just 28th in pace of play.
With all of the youth, athleticism and shooting on the roster, it is clear that the best strategy for the team moving forward is aiming for a faster pace.
Utah is a team that thrives on deliberate offense and keeping the opposition out of transition. One of the team’s key weaknesses is that it sometimes is turnover-prone and allows transition buckets on the other end, but that weakness has been improved recently. The Jazz have a 6-7 record when there are at least 100 possessions in their games this year. When there are fewer than 100 possessions, Utah is 22-6.
Sacramento needs to take advantage of its youth and superior speed in this contest, while the Jazz need to take their time on offense, avoid turnovers and get back on defense.
Will Harry Giles and Marvin Bagley Stay Out of Foul Trouble?
You could make the case that the Kings’ best player this season has been center Richaun Holmes. His averages of 13.1 points, 8.5 rebounds and 1.4 blocks per game aren’t extremely gaudy, but he has achieved those in relatively low minutes for a starter (29.4 per game) and has been devastatingly efficient.
Unfortunately, Holmes recently suffered a shoulder injury. Sacramento is utilizing a frontcourt rotation of Marvin Bagley and Harry Giles as centers and Nemanja Bjelica, Harrison Barnes and Trevor Ariza rotating as the stretch power forwards.
Bagley and Giles will have the unenviable task of trying to hang with Jazz star center Rudy Gobert inside. Unfortunately, both guys have been foul machines this season, with Bagley averaging 4.8 per 36 minutes and Giles averaging a whopping 7.8 per 36 minutes.
Gobert will have a heyday inside if Bagley and Giles can’t stay on the court and the Kings have to use one of their more perimeter-oriented forwards at the center position.
Our Preview’s Sacramento Kings vs Utah Jazz Betting Picks & Predictions Verdict
The Jazz have been very good at taking care of business at home against sub-.500 teams. In fact, they are 11-1 in such games. The Kings are 2-7 on the road against teams above .500.
I think the Jazz will be very motivated to get back on the winning side of things after a heart-breaking loss against the Pelicans. That should be evident in their play, so these are our Sacramento Kings vs Utah Jazz predictions for this preview:
- At the moment, Utah is favored by 9 or 9.5 points with most USA betting outlets. I advise betting on the Jazz -9pts @ best odds of -105 with Bookmaker. It is -110 for the same spread with Bovada, 5Dimes & BetOnline.
- Utah’s offense is operating at a high level right now and the Kings’ defense doesn’t have the personnel or chemistry to stop them. You should bet the over 221.5 total points @ -110 with BetOnline. It is over 222pts with the other sportsbooks.