NBA on ESPN Betting Preview: Portland Trail Blazers at Utah Jazz

Rudy Gobert and the Jazz have lost five straight games entering tonight’s affair.

Portland at Utah

Time: 9:30 PM CST (ESPN)

Spread: UTA -10.5

Total: 227.5

Odds c/o 5dimes

The Utah Jazz has lost its last five going into tonight’s game hosting Portland. The Jazz is heavy 10.5-point favorites over Portland, and the Trail Blazers are just 10-17 on the road this season. The over/under is set at 227.5 and the game will air as the second in an ESPN Friday night doubleheader, with tip-off slated for approximately 9:30 PM CST.

PORTLAND news & notes:

Portland has gone 6-4 SU over its last 10 games, and at 24-28 it trails the No.8 seeded Memphis Grizzlies by 2.5 games for the No. 8 spot in the Western Conference.

Carmelo Anthony has been the headliner for news in Portland, and the free-agent acquisition seems to be nothing but good for the Blazers’ rotation. Melo is averaging 16.5 points, 6.0 rebounds and 1.3 assists per game in 32 minutes a night through his first 23 games (all of which he has started). It has pushed Mario Hezonja back out of the starting lineup, where he was having his struggles. The Blazers also seemed to legitimately have added a true No. 3 option behind Damian Lillard and CJ McCollum, who combine to average 48.8 points and 11.4 assists per game in the backcourt.

The Blazers are arguably a better team on paper this year than last, but injuries have prevented it all from fully translating. Hassan Whiteside is something of an upgrade over the injured Jusef Nurkic, but losing Zach Collins to injury was a bit of a blow to a team thin on frontcourt depth. Rodney Hood has been a pleasant surprise as a second-unit scorer, though, with his 50.6 percent shooting and 11 points per game. The Blazers simply need a healthy roster before it can build the chemistry and momentum that it really should.

UTAH

The Utah Jazz is 32-18 thus far this season, and following entering 2020 so hot, the Jazz have fallen cold to lose its last five games.

Things have been slower coming together following the addition of point guard Mike Conley, perhaps than anyone may have expected. The veteran is coming around after a horrid start to this season and now averaging 13.6 points and 4.6 assists per game. His ball-handling and offense help keep Donovan Mitchell ready to find his scoring spots, and Mitchell is blossoming into a true superstar in his third season.

“Spida” as Mitchell goes by, is averaging 24.2 points, 4.3 rebounds, and 4.4 assists per game while talking a PER just over 20. Perhaps the biggest surprise for the Jazz has been that Bojan Bogdanovic is far more than a role player, but more of a second star. This changes a lot.

Bogdanovic is averaging 20.9 points per game while shooting 41.1 percent from behind the arc on seven-plus attempts per game. His offense helps the Jazz continue to play its slow, defense-first style of basketball, of course, cued by the defense of Rudy Gobert. Gobert is averaging 14.9 points and 14.5 boards per game, but his 2.6 blocks/steals help further illustrate his importance to Utah. His rim protection is among the league’s best, and he covers the occasional blunders of Mitchell and the Jazz’s other perimeter defenders nearly flawlessly.

Also, Utah has stepped up its scoring to 109.7 per game this year, and with the way that Utah defends, that should be adequate to put together another very nice season. While few are quick to credit the Jazz in the realms of the elite and true contenders, it arguably is the strongest of the dark horse contenders in either conference.

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