We are 10 days into the NBA season and there have been an abundance of storylines so far this season. Some of the feel-good storylines include Russell Westbrook's triple-double average over five games, DeMar DeRozan scoring 145 points in his first four games since signing a massive $139-million contract in the offseason, and the surprise 3-1 start by the Atlanta Hawks, a team many pegged to have a down year this year. Some of the shocking storylines of the young season include Golden State's 29-point home loss to San Antonio, New Orleans' 0-5 start, and the health of the team we will be following all year long - the Utah Jazz.
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The Jazz began the season with a loss in Portland (a loss which I predicted). They were without their big man Derrick Favors, who missed the game with a knee injury. Since that season-opening loss, the Jazz have won three of their last four games to get themselves one game above .500 at 3-2. They beat the San Antonio Spurs and Dallas Mavericks in back-to-back games earlier this week, and those wins have morale high within the team. The most important part of those wins was how a team of new faces gelled together. The Jazz put up 27 total assists in those two wins and welcomed the return of Derrick Favors to the starting lineup. Favors has been eased into action, so his numbers are paltry, but having his veteran presence on the floor means a world of difference to this young team. Next up for the Jazz is a rematch with the Spurs, this time in the friendly confines of Vivint Smart Home Arena.
As a reminder, I will release picks throughout the season using Doc's Sports Unit Betting System and will keep track of the results, regularly checking in with observations about what we can learn or have learned up to date.
San Antonio Spurs @ Utah Jazz Betting Storylines
This is game No.6 for both teams, and the Jazz will be looking to get the better of the Spurs for the second time in a four-day period. When these two teams met on Nov. 1, it was the Jazz's 3-point shooting that did most of the damage. As a team, the Jazz made a season-high 15 threes and handed the Spurs only their second home loss since March 2015. Normally when the Spurs lose, you automatically assume Gregg Popovich decided to rest his starters, but that wasn't the case on that night. All the big guns played extended minutes and just didn't have an answer for the Jazz's hot shooting ways. It will be difficult for the Jazz to duplicate such a performance, and I expect Popovich to have his team focused and ready to go.
After the Jazz beat the Spurs on the road, they had a home date with the Dallas Mavericks 24 hours later. The Jazz scored a 97-81 win thanks in large part to 25 points from George Hill. The crafty vet has scored 18-plus points in all five games so far this season and is the only Jazz player to do so. Rudy Gobert, who signed a lucrative multi-year extension Tuesday, chipped in with 12 points, 12 rebounds, three blocks, two steals and assist over 23 minutes. This was Gobert's third double-double of the season. Another positive note to mention is the health of Derrick Favors. He matched his season-high with 23 minutes as he works his way back from a knee injury that has limited him so far this year.
Tonight's game will be the Jazz's third game in four nights. Early in the season, playing a ton of games in quick succession might not matter all that much since teams are fresh, but the Jazz are still dealing with injury problems and don't have the greatest depth. They are still without Gordon Hayward (broken finger), but he is expected back in another week or so. Boris Diaw missed his second consecutive game with a jaw injury, and Alec Burks is out indefinitely after another surgery on his injured ankle. If you think beating the Spurs once a season is tough, beating them twice in the span of four days might just prove to be impossible.
San Antonio Spurs @ Utah Jazz Odds and Betting Trends
The Jazz will be looking to get their third consecutive win tonight when they host the San Antonio Spurs. The line opened up at San Antonio -4 -110 and the total currently sits at "O/U" 186, -110
The Jazz are 2-5 ATS in their last seven games, and the "under" has hit in 15 of their last 22 home games. The Spurs are 2-6 in their last eight games when playing on the road against Utah and the total has gone "under" the number in nine of the Spurs' last 10 games when playing on the road against the Jazz.
San Antonio Spurs @ Utah Jazz Predictions and Picks
Both of these teams come into this game in very different shape. The Spurs have been off since Tuesday, while this game will be the Jazz's third in four nights.
Normally I would look to back the Spurs any time they are laying this short of a number, but they will be travelling without Tony Parker and Danny Green, who will both miss tonight's game with a knee and quad injury, respectively. The absence of these two players puts the pressure squarely on Kawhi Leonard to deliver another big performance. Leonard has led the team in scoring in all five games this season and put up 30 points last time out against Utah.
If the Jazz are going to be successful in beating the Spurs again, they will have to continue their hot shooting ways and continue to knock down threes at a good clip. George Hill and Joe Johnson have meshed nicely with their new squad, with the former leading his team in points per game (21.4) and shooting percentage from the field (54.8). With Derrick Favors returning to 20-plus minutes a night, it will only be a matter of time before he starts putting up numbers we are all accustomed to.
Beating the Spurs is a tough ask no matter what, and beating them twice in a four-day period seems impossible. But the Chicago Cubs did just win the World Series, which means anything is possible this year. I'll take the Jazz with the points, and a little sprinkle on the money line.
Let's go 2-0 tonight with a 4-unit play on the Jazz +4, (-110).
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