Brooklyn at Utah
Time: 8 PM (CT), NBA TV
Spread: UTA -8.5
Odds c/o 5dimes
The Utah Jazz have regressed following the departure of team leader Gordon Hayward. The Jazz is 5-7 thus far this season and will host the Brooklyn Nets at 8 PM (CT) on NBA TV Saturday. Utah is 8.5-point favorites over the visiting Nets in a game with an over/under set at 206.5 points, low, and reflective of Utah’s still-stringent and tough defense. The Jazz allows just 99.1 points per game while scoring 97.0 itself.
Utah is 5-3 at home this season but has yet to win on the road (0-4). It will try to continue its home cooking, which is misleading considering the team has lost its past three at home, as well. Utah is simply struggling to score the ball without Hayward on its roster, and it has limited the impact of its still extra-worldly defense. Rodney Hood is leading the team in scoring at 15.3 points per game, but Ricky Rubio is No. 2 with 14.8 per contest. The Jazz still only get 13.9 points per game from Rudy Gobert.
Gobert is arguably the league’s best defensive big, but his post moves are limited and the Jazz has few players capable of drawing consistent double-teams.
That means Gobert does not benefit from an abundance of easy looks, though he still makes his living in and around the basket and finishes well (2.8 offensive rebounds per game are not too shabby either). The Jazz are trying to get more from second-year guard Joe Ingles, who flirted with signing elsewhere only to return to Salt Lake. Ingles is averaging 10.2 points, 4.8 re, ounds and 3.4 assists, but he also shoots 43.8 percent from three-point range.
Utah averages 9.8 made threes per game at a 34.4 percent clip team-wide. The 1.19 assist/turnover ratio the team maintains is more problematic, with Utah averaging 16.6 turnovers per game. Rubio is accountable for 4.2 of those turnovers, and Utah must do a better job of maintaining control over the basketball. Rookie Donovan Mitchell appears to be one of the steals of the draft, and the former Louisville Cardinal is averaging 12.9 points, 2.3 rebounds and 2.2 assists per game in 26 minutes a night. He has drawn comparisons to former Jazzman Blue Edwards, and the comparison is suitable given his attacking style and athleticism.
Utah has done a great job in the post-Sloan era of making the most of fringe talents, and with a roster lacking any real defining talents (at least offensively) they will need to do so again. There is no hidden source of offense on Utah’s roster: It simply must play better team basketball and work the game at its pace. That means holding teams under 100 points while just managing to outscore them. The method made Utah a surprise No. 4 team in the West a year ago, but losing Hayward crippled its offense quite predictably.
The Brooklyn Nets have been a surprise team at 5-7. The Nets are just 2-5 on the road this season, though, and it will hope to edge that closer to .500 with a victory tonight. While Brooklyn certainly is not the league’s most talented team, it plays hard, and it has a number of young players who are all still far from hitting their respective peaks. Foremost of such talents is guard D’Angelo Russell, whom the Nets obtained by dealing center Brook Lopez to the L.A. Lakers this summer.
Russell is thought to have the makings of a superstar, and his stats thus far support that notion: 20.5 points, 5.9 assists and 1.09 steals per game in just 27 minutes a night. The Nets have missed Jeremy Lin this season, whose scoring should be a key fixture of Brooklyn’s attack once he is healthy. The Nets have ten players averaging nine points per game or better on the season, and while Allen Crabbe, Rondae Hollis-Jefferson and Trevor Booker may not be household names, they are a trio of Nets players who all work hard and can outplay opponents on a given night on the basis of sheer effort alone. Booker is averaging 10.8 points and 7.4 rebounds, while being one of the league’s better undersized 4-men.