Jazz vs. Clippers Odds
|Moneyline||-160 / +135|
|Time||10 p.m. ET|
|Odds as of Friday and via PointsBet|
After winning 20 of their last 21 games and going 19-2 against the spread in that timeframe, the league-best 24-5 Utah Jazz are demanding everyone’s attention. But the betting markets are not giving the Jazz the respect they deserve as they’ve continued to cover the spread by an average margin of 7.9 points in that timeframe.
On Friday evening, the Jazz will play in the second game of their series against the Los Angeles Clippers at Staples Center. The Jazz won the first matchup handily, dominating the short-handed Clippers 114 to 96.
This matchup may not be as much of cake walk with Kawhi Leonard, Paul George, Nicholas Batum and Luke Kennard all upgraded to questionable after sitting out the previous game. While it may be tempting to back the Jazz to keep it rolling, I have the Clippers very highly rated and do not see much of an edge with all their big shots potentially coming back in the lineup for a revenge spot.
Instead, I see value on the total, where I project a low-scoring battle between two strong defensive teams atop the Western Conference.
The Jazz have not only been dominating weaker competition, they have been beating strong teams, notching wins against the Milwaukee Bucks (twice), the surging Dallas Mavericks (twice), Denver Nuggets, Indiana Pacers and Boston Celtics. Their offense has looked like a well-oiled machine, but their defense is really what stands out, ranking second in the NBA in Defensive Rating (106.9), per NBA Advanced Stats.
In an era of small ball and high-volume 3-point shooting, Rudy Gobert is proof that the big man is still relevant and he has cemented himself as the front-runner for Defensive Player of the Year. He leads the league in Defensive Win Shares (2.1) and Defensive Rating (100.2), per Basketball Reference. He is averaging a career-high 2.7 blocks per game. The On/Off numbers show that the Jazz’s Defensive Rating decreases by 8.2 points when he is off the court.
The Jazz are heavily dependent on the 3s this season with 48.3% of their field goal attempts coming from behind the arc However, the Clippers defend 3s well and rank eighth in the league in Opponent’s 3-point Percentage (35.44%). The Jazz shot 13-of-40 (32%) in the previous meeting and that was without a few of the Clippers’ best defenders playing.
Mike Conley’s status is questionable for the game. He is enjoying a nice bounce back season in his second year with the Jazz. Conley’s 3-point attempts (6.8), makes (2.8) and 3-point percentage (41%) are all career highs and his Offensive Box Plus/Minus (3.7) leads all Jazz players. His absence would certainly help the case for a lower scoring game.
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Los Angeles Clippers
The Clippers have had a strong start to the season as well, boasting a 21-9 record and sitting third place in the stacked Western conference. Their record should probably be even better, but they’ve faced issues with injuries and stars sitting due to health and safety protocols as of late.
With so many rotational players potentially getting back in the lineup, the Clippers should look better than their previous game. However, I don’t think their offense will immediately click, having missed several games with their best players and having to face one of the best defensive teams in the NBA. Instead, I think they’ll lean on their defense and try to contain the hot-shooting Jazz.
Similar to the Jazz, the Clippers are deadly from behind the arc. While their volume is not as high, their accuracy is on point, ranking first in 3-point percentage (42.2%). The Jazz defend against 3s well, ranking fifth in Opponent’s 3-point percentage (35.2%) and allow the second-fewest 3-point attempts to their opponents (31.2). This definitely helps mitigate one of the Clippers’ strengths and can keep the scoring low.
When Leonard returns to the lineup after sitting the previous game, the Clippers have gone 12-3 (80%) to the under, per the Sports Data Query Language database. Throughout his entire career, his teams (Spurs, Raptors and Clippers) have gone 41-24 (63.1%) to the under.
I believe his teams have struggle after having to adjust to playing without a ball-dominant player such as Leonard. My theory is that players struggle having to defer back to his high usage rate, resulting in lower scoring.
Since the 2015-2016 season, games two elite teams (defined as teams with a 60%+ winning percentage) from the same conference have gone under 60% of the time, per our Bet Labs tool.
These teams tend to play more defense against conference rivals when they are fighting for seeding. This should hold especially true for these two strong defensive teams as this rematch should have a more playoff feel to it.
In addition, in the history of the SDQL database (dating back to the 1994-1995 season), when teams are facing each other for the second time in two consecutive games and the first game went under, the second matchup has gone under 57.2% of the time as well.
These teams gain some familiarity with one another, make adjustments and it results in a low scoring game, particularly when the first game went under as well.
In a matchup between two elite defensive teams who rank 20th (Jazz) and 26th (Clippers) in Pace, I am counting on these teams to go under the total once again.
Both teams are salivating at the fact that Anthony Davis will be missing an extended period of time for the Los Angeles Lakers, and I expect each team to bring their best defensive effort to stay on top in the Western Conference standings.
Pick: Under 225.5 (bet down to 224)
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