You may not have expected to see the San Antonio Spurs and Utah Jazz occupying bottom-four seeds in the Western Conference this season. But, through more than one-fourth of the season, that’s where the 11-12 Spurs and 11-13 Jazz are stuck.
Today, both teams will attempt to start a move upward in the crowded Western Conference in a contest against each other (9.05 p.m. ET Tuesday on NBATV).
Last season, these two teams were among the best defenses in the league. The Jazz have regressed to an average defense due to lackluster effort. The Spurs have fallen all the way to one of the worst defenses in the league after an offseason of losing many key defenders.
In this preview, we will discuss some key questions surrounding this matchup. Then, we’ll take a look at the betting odds and give picks and our San Antonio Spurs at Utah Jazz predictions on the spread and over/under.
Will LaMarcus Aldridge Be Ready for the Rudy Gobert Matchup?
This season has not been the greatest one for LaMarcus Aldridge. The six-time All-Star big man is rebounding well, but his scoring efficiency is way down and he has lost almost all his key matchups against the league’s upper tier of big men.
Anthony Davis, Hassan Whiteside, Marc Gasol, Karl-Anthony Towns and Clint Capela have all clearly outplayed Aldridge in individual matchups since the start of November. On Tuesday, he’ll go against reigning Defensive Player of the Year Rudy Gobert.
Gobert has not had his best year on defense for the struggling Jazz. However, he is still a terrifying rim protector due to his otherworldly length and instincts. Aldridge will need to play an efficient offensive game, mixing in physical finishes at the rim and a few jumpers here and there, to help the Spurs win this game.
On defense, Gobert is mainly a finisher. Aldridge will have the tough task of trying to help on drives from the perimeter while preventing Gobert from catching all sorts of lobs and dump-off passes.
Will Donovan Mitchell Stay Aggressive as a Driver?
The biggest weakness on the Spurs’ roster is their weak perimeter defenders. DeMar DeRozan, Bryn Forbes, Rudy Gay, Patty Mills, Derrick White and Marco Belinelli are not striking fear in anyone’s hearts. Mitchell, in particular, should be able to light up the scoreboard for the Jazz if he stays aggressive.
The young Jazz guard is an athletic freak at 6’3”, with a quick first step and great elevation and finishing ability when he gets to the rim. Except for maybe White, San Antonio doesn’t have a player who can stay with Mitchell if he wants to get to the rim.
One of Mitchell’s biggest issues, though, is that he can be over-reliant on his jump shot. Sometimes he’ll get a big man switched on to him, and instead of trying to speed by him, he pulls up for a jump shot. Mitchell needs to think “attack mode” all game long to take advantage of the Spurs’ slow defense.
Will the Jazz Hit Their Wide Open Threes?
Last season, the Jazz made 36.6 percent of their threes, which ranked them in the upper half of the NBA. This season, on slightly higher volume, they are shooting a mere 32.6 percent from behind the arc.
The Spurs are not a good three-point defense, which is rare for them. Opponents make 36.2 percent of their downtown shots, which ranks San Antonio eighth-worst in opponent three-point percentage. The team doesn’t have much speed, athleticism or length on the perimeter and often struggles to rotate.
Utah should have every opportunity to make a lot of threes. Unfortunately, the Jazz have struggled with their outside shots even when they have been wide open this season. Will they regress to the mean at home against San Antonio.
Our Preview’s San Antonio Spurs vs Utah Jazz Betting Picks & Predictions
These teams are wildly unpredictable. The Jazz have played some terrible games at home this season, but the Spurs have also played a bunch of horrible games on the road.
I still like Utah’s roster much better in this offense. I think the Jazz will get comfortable against the Spurs’ defense in this game, especially with newly-acquired knockdown shooter Kyle Korver helping the bench. So the San Antonio Spurs vs Utah Jazz predictions for this peview are:
- Utah is an eight-point favorite or more with those American sportsbooks. I expect the Jazz to win by at least that much. Pick the Jazz to cover the line of -8pts @ -115 with Bovada.
- The Spurs’ defense is not good, but it has been especially bad as of late. Utah should jump out to an early lead behind their home crowd and starter advantage. The Spurs will then get back into the game with their offensive identity. Bet the over 216 total points @ -110 with Bovada, Intertops or BetOnline.
Jared is a lifelong sports fan and writer whose specialist subject is NBA. A 2015 graduate of Indiana Wesleyan University, with a bachelor’s degree in journalism, Jared has been a sought-after freelance sports writer. In addition to his valuable USA Betting contributions, he has also written for other top media outlets.