We’ve got an east versus west battle as the Utah Jazz host the Charlotte Hornets. After a strong start, Charlotte has struggled to find consistency this season. As for the Jazz, they are pretty much in finals or bust mode at this point so they have been all business to start the year.
Charlotte Hornets vs. Utah Jazz
Monday, December 20, 2021 – 09:00 PM EST at Vivint Arena
Hornets Can't Seem to Find Consistency
As a squad, the Charlotte Hornets have a ton of potential. They're young and full of talent but unfortunately, most of that only shows up on the offensive end. On defense, they are an absolute disaster and that is the main thing stopping them from filling their immense potential. They are ranked dead last in offensive efficiency and have been for most of the season. That's the reason they sit at 16-16 on the season despite the fact that they're ranked 3rd in the league offensively.
Tonight they come into Utah as huge underdogs and it makes sense why. The spread for this game is Jazz -11.5 with the total at 237. That total is a clear indication of the Hornets' defensive futility while also exhibiting how prolific they are on offense. The average combined score of Charlotte games this season has been 232.6 which is under this total. My NBA pick is on the total but in the first half, not the full game. These are the highest-scoring first-half teams in the league.
Utah Is Still a Favorite Out West
They might not be fan favorites historically as a franchise but the Utah Jazz have been contenders one way or another for as long as anyone can remember. This version of Utah is the best we've seen since the Karl Malone and John Stockton days when they were challenging Jordan and the Bulls for NBA supremacy. After what they did in the regular season last year, their playoff run has to be considered a bitter disappointment. Nobody knew what to expect from the Jazz this year but they've answered those questions and then some.
Utah's margin of victory on the season stands at 10.4 points per game which is top 15 all-time if they were to finish the season at that number. What that means is Utah isn't just winning, they are putting a real beating on teams. Unlike Charlotte, this team does it on both ends but the tone is set by their defense. In tonight's matchup, I expect that to be the case, especially considering they have the best advantage.
The first half total tonight is 121.5 and I'm taking the under in this spot. First of all, this is a massive total, even for these two teams. Utah averages 58.4 points per game in the first half at home while Charlotte averages 57 ppg in the first half of their road games for a combined total of 115.4.
Considering the Hornets played last night, I think Utah sets the tone defensively to start. On top of that, Utah has lost two in a row so if there was ever a get-right spot, it would be against these Hornets. Utah is not in a position to take this team lightly given how prolific their offense can be.
*The line and/or odds on picks in this article might have moved since the content was commissioned. For updated line movements, visit BMR’s free betting odds product.