NBA Western Conference Friday Betting: Utah Jazz at Portland Trail Blazers

LaMarcus-Aldridge-blazers-98Utah at Portland
Time: 10 PM ET, Feb 21, 2014
Spread: POR -8.5
M/L: POR -420; UTA +310
Total: 202

Betting odds courtesy of Bovada

The Utah Jazz are just 19-34 on the season but have won five of its past 10 games and will travel to take on the Portland Trail Blazers in a game NBA oddsmakers are favoring the Blazers by 8.5 points.

The Trail Blazers are note an elite team at home, with a 19-7 mark on the year. The team has lost three straight with its last having been a 111-109 defeat to the Spurs, playing without Tim Duncan and Tony Parker. Getting back on track against the Jazz should prove easy, as the Blazers have the league’s highest scoring offense (107.9 points per game) going against a mediocre Jazz “D” (14th, 100.3 points per game). The Jazz aren’t a potent team offensively either, ranking third-to-last at 94.4 points per game.

To be fair, the Jazz were not expected to be good this season. The team opted not to sign either of its free agent big men, Paul Millsap and Al Jefferson, over the summer, triggering the rebuild. Gordon Hayward has evolved into a great multi-threat offensive player, but he is a restricted free agent at season’s end. The Butler swingman leads the team in scoring (16.2 points per game) and steals (1.4) per game, and has diversified his offense a lot and gained more confidence this season.

Rookie Trey Burke has played reasonably well, posting averages of 12.5 points and 5.6 assists per game. The Jazz have been disappointed with the progression of Enes Kanter, who was expected to be the starting center this season. Instead, 4-man Derrick Favors has shifted to center and Marvin Williams is starting at power forward (Favors is battling a right hip strain and will not play). With Kanter and rookie Rudy Gobert waiting in the wings, this isn’t a permanent arrangement. Kanter is already posting a similar PER to Williams (15.3 Kanter; 15.6 Williams).

The Blazers have been better than expected, but maybe it shouldn’t be such a surprise. The team really only replaced J.J. Hickson with Robin Lopez, but the net effect on the defense has been tremendous. Lopez is averaging 10.7 points, 8.5 rebounds and 1.54 blocks per game in 31 minutes a night, and LaMarcus Aldridge has been hitting the boards harder this season (11.4 rebounds per game).

The Blazers rank 1st in the Association in rebounds per game (46.1) and if there is any weaknesses on the team it lies in its defense and lack of depth. That may begin to rear its head in the playoffs, and the team has lost three straight, but expect the Blazers to get back on track against a weak Jazz team tonight.

UTA Trends: UNDER 4-0 in last 4 following SU loss; UNDER 5-0 in last 5 road games; UNDER 4-0-1 in last 5 when opponent scores 100 or more in previous game.

POR Trends: 0-4 ATS in last 4 home games; 6-1 ATS in last 7 Friday games; 1-4 ATS in last 5 meetings.

Head-to-head: OVER 10-1 in last 11 meetings in Portland; OVER 4-1 in last 5 meetings; Jazz 1-4 ATS in last 5 meetings.

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