NBA Picks: Jazz at Raptors Point Spread
Utah Jazz at Toronto Raptors
Now that the holidays are over, the NBA swings deeper into the middle third of the schedule as teams grind through the marathon regular season. Toronto sits atop the Atlantic Division with a 23-11 record, 2.5 games ahead of Boston, while Utah’s one game ahead of the Thunder for top spot in the Northwest Division. The Raptors bring the second-deadliest offense in the league while the Jazz earn their W’s with the best defense in the NBA, promising an interesting clash of style between these division leaders.
As one of the ascendant teams in the western conference, the Utah Jazz are finally cashing in on smart drafting and shrewd free agent signings. At minimum, the Jazz want to occupy the same space the Raptors have carved out for themselves, mimicking Toronto’s rise to become the main challenger to the Cleveland Cavaliers in the eastern conference. Both small market franchises worked around the difficulties of attracting elite free agents through patient team-building and development, creating squads steeped in fundamentals which carry them past the majority of teams in the NBA.
Jazz at Raptors Prediction
Bet Toronto (-208) at 5Dimes
The Utah Jazz are in the middle of their own long road trip, facing their third game in four nights after losing to the Boston Celtics on the rubber end of a back-to-back. Despite a day of rest, fatigue will likely factor in during the second half of the game, making it vital for the Jazz to build a solid cushion during the first two quarters. The Raptors enjoy the luxury of resting at home, having returned from San Antonio, where they were blown out to finish 3-3 during their half-dozen games visiting the west.
Even worse for Utah, George Hill will miss his third straight game with a concussion. This will force Gordon Hayward to absorb more of the offensive duties. Rudy Gobert must extend himself a bit more to shut down Kyle Lowry and DeMar DeRozan without Hill’s superb perimeter defense. Backup point Shelvin Mack needs to prevent Toronto’s all-star point from running circles around the Jazz in transition. If Utah repeats their lackadaisical performance in Boston, the Raptors will feast early and often, resting their vets in the fourth quarter.
Toronto should be considered a strong favorite for this matchup. During their December meeting in Utah, Lowry destroyed the Jazz, pouring in 36 points on 15-20 shooting, missing only one field goal (!) from inside the arc. Injuries, fatigue and the Raptors’ home advantage will make it much more difficult for Utah to keep pace over 48 minutes. There’s a good chance Toronto will easily beat the spread for point totals and margins.
NBA Picks Tonight | January 5, 2017
A total of eight games take place tonight across the NBA, including elite contenders and lottery squads. The most closely watched match of the night will feature a pair of triple-double machines, James Harden and Russell Westbrook, clashing in a vital conference matchup. D’Antoni’s run-and-gun squad has taken the association somewhat by surprise, while Westbrook continues to astonish by averaging a triple-double deep into the season. Odds are against the Thunder for this one, but fans will focus more on watching two unstoppable forces clash on-court.
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