Timberwolves at Jazz Picks and NBA Betting Odds
by Trevor Whenham - 4/12/2013
The concept of a must-win game is dramatically overused in sports. As the Jazz finish off the home portion of their season, though, they are pretty much in must-win territory. With just three games remaining, they sit a full game behind the Lakers for the eighth and final playoff spot. They don’t necessarily need to win all three remaining games to overtake the Lakers, but it would sure help. They have a slightly easier schedule — home and home against Minnesota and at Memphis compared to home games against Golden State, San Antonio and Houston for the Lakers — but the margin for error is extremely slim.
Timberwolves at Jazz Betting Storylines
Minnesota certainly isn’t playing a must-win game here. They haven’t had one of those for months. They really aren’t playing like you would expect from a 29-49 team, though, and they represent a bigger challenge than the Jazz would probably prefer. They are a respectable 6-6 in their last 12 games, and that’s despite road losses to the Warriors and Clippers in their last two.
The success has been driven by the contribution of two players above all else. Ricky Rubio has been playing the best basketball of his NBA career recently. A sore shoulder has limited him in his last two, and his resulting lousy efforts are a big reason they have lost both. Hopefully, the shoulder issues explain why he is shooting just 4-for-33 in his last three games. Perhaps more surprising is the outstanding play of Nikola Pekovic. The team has a big hole with the loss of Kevin Love, and Pekovic has done what he can to fill the big-man scoring and rebounding gap. The Timberwolves haven’t been a great team this year, but they have a strong core, are well-coached, and know that brighter days are ahead. They are likely to put forth a solid effort here — especially if Rubio is feeling healthier.
The Jazz have won seven of their last nine, so they are in solid form coming into this crucial stretch drive. They have lost two of their last three games, though, and it’s a concern that both games have occurred at home. Those were against elite contenders Oklahoma City and Denver, though, while they have easily handled lesser teams like New Orleans, Phoenix and Portland. At least they aren’t playing down to the level of their competition — they just don’t seem to be good enough to beat top teams.
An interesting subplot in this one is that this could be the last time the home fans see a lot of these players if the team doesn’t make the playoffs and get more home games. The team has nine expiring contracts, including four starters — Paul Millsap, Mo Williams, Al Jefferson, and Randy Foye. The team obviously won’t lose all nine players, but there is going to be some very significant changes to this roster in the offseason. It’s hard to believe that chemistry is at a peak given the uncertainty ahead. There are a lot of teams I would give more credit in a situation like this where they have their backs against the wall than the Jazz.
Timberwolves at Jazz NBA Odds and Betting Trends
Minnesota is 0-3-1 ATS in their last four but are a very strong 8-1-1 ATS in their last 10 games following a straight up loss. The Jazz also bounce back very well — they are 7-0 ATS following their last seven straight up losses. The Timberwolves have failed to cover in the last six meetings between the teams overall and the last six in Utah. Eight of the last 10 meetings in Utah have gone “over” the total.
Timberwolves at Jazz Picks and Betting Predictions
This is just too many points to give away for the Jazz. They haven’t been consistent at home. Minnesota has played two lousy games recently, but if they are a bit healthier for this one, they should bounce back. Utah should be able to win this one, but with a spread like this you are expecting them to run away with it, and I just don’t think that that is the most likely outcome. There is value with the Timberwolves.
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