The Utah Jazz (24-9) will take their 11-3 road record to face the Portland Trail Blazers (13-20) this Wednesday evening. Portland is just 2-9 in its last 11 games while Utah has only lost twice in the last month. Let’s see what the NBA odds tell us!
Utah Jazz vs. Portland Trail Blazers
Wednesday, December 29, 2021 – 10:00 PM EST at Moda Center
The Jazz (16-17 ATS) are a 6-point road favorite over the Trail Blazers (12-21 ATS) at BMR’s top-rated sportsbooks. Portland has the worst overall spread record in the league this year. Portland also has the worst record (2-8 ATS) as an underdog, which is something Utah has yet to be in any game this season. But can the Jazz cover after not winning their last two games by more than six points?
The Last Meeting
These teams met exactly a month ago in Utah, a 129-107 win by the Jazz. It was a close game at halftime before the Jazz pulled away in the fourth quarter, outscoring Portland 35-23. Donovan Mitchell led the way for Utah with 30 points while Rudy Gobert had 21 points and 16 rebounds in one of his biggest performances of the season. Utah shot very well (52.8%) while Portland (46.2%) did not.
It was another rough game for Damian Lillard, who finished 4-of-12 for 11 points in 31 minutes of action. It was his second-lowest scoring game this season. Anfernee Simons came off the bench to tie Jusuf Nurkić for the team lead with 24 points, an unusually high total for him as he averages 12.0 points per game. C.J. McCollum scored 19 points, but he remains out with a lung injury. Portland is 2-7 since his injury.
The teams combined for just 13 turnovers with Utah having a season-low five giveaways. Utah ranks second in the NBA with 45.0% of its field goals coming unassisted. But against Portland, Utah was plus-11 in assists and is 14-2 this season when winning the assist margin. Portland is only 6-5 when winning the assist battle.
Utah continues to win at a high percentage, but the last two games have not been blowouts at the end. On Christmas against outmatched Dallas, the Jazz actually trailed for half the game before pulling out a 120-116 victory. Bench minutes proved critical in that one as Mitchell shot 11-of-26 from the field and was a minus-18 in the game.
Against the Spurs, the Jazz led by 17 points in the final five minutes before finalizing a 110-104 win. Mitchell was out with a back injury that will cost him this game as well. Jordan Clarkson came off the bench to lead the team with 23 points and five assists.
It was his third-highest scoring game of the season, and he can replace some of the shooting the offense loses without Mitchell. But Clarkson is not hot right now as he’s only shooting 34.8% from the field over the last five games.
But the Jazz has played much better basketball than Portland this season. Utah is No. 1 in Offensive Rating and barely behind the Warriors for No. 2 in Net Rating. Led by Gobert, Utah has the highest rebound rate in the league while Portland is ranked 15th.
Lillard has seen his numbers improve for Portland, but he’s still not up to the level of efficiency fans are used to seeing. In the last seven games since his return from injury, he is averaging 30.9 points per game, but he is still only shooting 41.8% from the field. Lillard shot 45.1% and 46.3% in the previous two seasons.
Portland has recently placed seven players in the COVID protocol, including starters Robert Covington and Jusuf Nurkić. Throw in the McCollum injury and Lillard is really down in team support. He will at least have Norman Powell for this one, though in plus-minus, Powell has averaged a minus-10.6 when on the court in his last 11 games (2-9 team record).
Portland shot a season-high 42 free throws against Dallas on Monday, 10 more than it had in any game this season, and still lost 132-117 despite Dallas’ best player (Luka Doncic) being inactive. The Mavericks also shot 57.1% from the field, the 13th time the Trail Blazers have allowed a team to go over 50% and the highest game yet for them. Portland ranks 28th in Defensive Rating and that only moves up to 23rd in home games where the team is a more respectable 11-8 compared to a disgusting 2-12 on the road.
However, Utah has traveled very well this year. Not only is Utah 11-3 on the road, but the Jazz rank No. 1 in Offensive Rating and No. 2 in Defensive Rating in road games. Utah has by far the best Net Rating (+11.3) on the road this year, lapping No. 2 Brooklyn (+6.2) by over five points.
Even with Portland at home and Mitchell out, I like the Jazz in this matchup. Portland is down too many players, Lillard is not playing up to par, and no team has been a worse bet this season than the Trail Blazers. While Utah is not covering at the rate it did last year, this team still has 22 of its 24 wins by at least six points this season. I will trust Utah to cover again for your NBA picks this Wednesday.
*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.