Celtics vs. Jazz NBA Preview

Royce O'Neale #23 of the Utah Jazz on January 27, 2021 in Salt Lake City, Utah.    Alex Goodlett/Getty Images/AFP
Royce O’Neale #23 of the Utah Jazz on January 27, 2021 in Salt Lake City, Utah. Alex Goodlett/Getty Images/AFP


The Utah Jazz weren’t supposed to be this good. Can they beat the NBA lines again this Tuesday when they host the Boston Celtics?


Boston Celtics vs. Utah Jazz

Tuesday, February 9, 2021 – 10:00 PM ET at Vivint Smart Home Arena


It wasn’t like the Utah Jazz were horrible last year or anything. They went 44-28 (34-36-2 ATS) and made the playoffs for the fourth consecutive season, so they didn’t exactly hit rock bottom, even if they got bounced out of the first round again. But here we are in 2021 with the Jazz holding the best record in the league at 19-5 SU and 17-7 ATS. Mind-blowing.

Then again, the Boston Celtics (12-10 SU and ATS) keep finding a way to beat the NBA lines, even after six straight trips to the postseason under head coach Brad Stevens. Maybe they’ll do it again this Tuesday when they visit the Jazz in the finale of their five-game Western swing. The C’s opened as 4-point road dogs on the NBA odds board at FanDuel; unfortunately for Boston fans, their side isn’t as healthy as Utah’s right now, and that could make the difference Tuesday night.


Brown Sauce The Celtics were already without combo guard Marcus Smart (plus-0.3 VORP) heading into the weekend, which was bad enough. Then they lost their top performer this year, stud swingman Jaylen Brown (plus-1.3 VORP). Smart is out until late February with a strained left calf; Brown is day-to-day with a sore left knee, and is considered questionable for this matchup. Just the possibility of Brown playing might be enough to make it worth putting the C’s in your NBA pick at these odds. However, without both him and Smart in the lineup, Boston lost 100-91 to the Phoenix Suns on Sunday as 3-point road dogs. Payton Pritchard (plus-0.1 VORP) has been a useful guard off the Celtics bench, but the more they have to play Jeff Teague (minus-0.2 VORP), the worse their chances of covering will be.


The Conley Conundrum The Jazz have a major injury concern of their own in point guard Mike Conley (plus-1.0 VORP), who’s out indefinitely with a right hamstring issue. Conley’s resurgence is one of the biggest reasons Utah has been able to thrive thus far; however, it’s come at the expense of Donovan Mitchell (plus-0.6 VORP), and as we saw last year when Conley was injured, Mitchell seems to play much better when he’s freed from that yoke. We also saw that dynamic play out on Sunday. In their first game since Conley left the lineup, Mitchell put up 27 points, 11 assists and nine rebounds in a 103-95 victory over the Indiana Pacers (+5 at home). Bojan Bogdanovic (plus-0.2 VORP) is also starting to round into form after a slow start; Bogdanovic hit three of his eight trey attempts versus Indiana, and now sits at 42.1 percent from downtown on the year. Let’s assume for this pick that Brown doesn’t play for Boston, which will give Mitchell and Bogdanovic more room to operate and keep Utah’s hot streak alive.


NBA Pick: Jazz –4 (–110) at FanDuel

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