Lakers vs. Jazz NBA Preview

Donovan Mitchell #45 of the Utah Jazz warms up before a game. Alex Goodlett/Getty Images/AFP
Donovan Mitchell #45 of the Utah Jazz warms up before a game. Alex Goodlett/Getty Images/AFP

The Los Angeles Lakers are finding out what life without Anthony Davis looks like and it’s not pretty. Since Davis played only 14 minutes in a loss to Denver, the Lakers are 1-3, with the three setbacks coming in the past three outings.

Given their recent struggles, this hardly seems like the ideal time to visit Salt Lake City for the Purple and Gold. Utah has lost twice since Jan. 8th, both on the road in less than ideal situations to Denver and at the Los Angeles Clippers. The Jazz is the best team in the NBA and on the season and they have the best scoring differential at +9.6 points a contest. PointsBet along with other top-notch betting websites have NBA odds showing Utah at -8.5.

Los Angeles Lakers vs Utah Jazz

Vivint Arena

Is the Jazz Really This Good?

Utah has the best record in the NBA by a significant margin at 25-6 and they are a basketball bettors’ favorite team by a long stretch with their 23-8 ATS record. When a team is playing this well one cannot help but look ahead and consider the possibilities of just how good they are and what measuring stick to quantify where they could be headed.

Other NBA teams have assembled 21-2 streaks, though not as many have gone 19-3 ATS during this duration. Seeing the regular season doesn’t end until the middle of May, to think we can project how the Jazz will finish the season and what kind of injuries that might occur that would change everything for them is foolhardy. But here is what we do know.

As mentioned, Utah has lost twice in close to seven weeks, one was going to Denver after a long homestand riding an 11-game win streak and the other was at the L.A. Clippers last week after beating them two days prior at the same Staple Center.

What got our attention about this team’s potential was their last game, a win over Charlotte at home. Utah was listless, as the Hornets scored 67 points in the first half. The Jazz was taking poor shots, not executing and uninterested in playing defense. They went into the fourth quarter up one point and did what great teams do, turned it up a notch.

Utah outscored Charlotte 41-20 in the last 12 minutes and played as they had the previous 23 times, dominating the competition. That shows presence and understanding what you need to do.

Lakers Shorthanded and Not Having Others Step Up

Besides A.D. out, another starter, Dennis Schröder is out and will miss this matchup. It was a foregone conclusion the Lakers were not going to sail through the season without issues. But one thing they were counting on was their rebuilt bench would help them overcome the rough patches.

Last season, the Lakers (22-10, 15-21-1 ATS) had a bench with size, which included Dwight Howard and JaVale McGee, always giving them a defensive presence in the paint when Davis rested. With those two moving on, a 36-yard old Marc Gasol is the main center and though he has a big body, he’s not a shot-blocker.

In L.A. ‘s last three contests, they have allowed Brooklyn and Washington to shoot close to 50 percent and they have slid back to a still very respectable 5th in field goal percentage defense. Nonetheless, with Davis missing tonight and reports of close to a month more still sidelined, coach Frank Vogel’s defense is vulnerable.

Kentavious Caldwell-Pope, Wes Mathews and Alex Caruso are not doing enough to help LeBron James from the backcourt. Their inconsistent play reduces the offense, along with the up and down nature of Kyle Kuzma and Markieff Morris as forwards. With how Utah is playing, a complete effort is necessary for the Lakers to complete in this encounter.

The Point Spread Winner

If A.D. was playing, even with a lower spread at betting sites, Los Angeles might have been worth a look. However, that’s not the case, which means for NBA picks it’s Utah (overpriced) or pass.

Sure the spread is large, but the Jazz will have ample motivation looking to truly establish themselves as the team to beat out West. And while LeBron and company are not going to sweat another loss this time of year, this would be another shot of ego boost for Quin Snyder’s club. There are any number of superlatives about Utah and this one tells the story the best in our opinion: The Jazz is 18-4 ATS after a game where they covered the spread this season, winning by 10.3 PPG.

NBA Picks: Jazz -8.5 at PointsBet