Utah at Denver
Time: 9:30 PM CT (TNT)
Spread: DEN -7
Odds c/o 5dimes
The Utah Jazz is 34-2\6 on the season and has won six of its last 10 games. The Jazz has won 12 of its last 17 overall.
After Donovan Mitchell’s outstanding rookie season, many were expecting the Jazz to continue to rise in the West, but Mitchell has been mostly the same player, as the Jazz has been mostly the same team, albeit slightly worse than it was a year ago. Utah is still seeded No. 6 in the West and a serious threat, but the team has failed to take that “next step.”
Mitchell is averaging 20.7 points per game, but he has shot just 41.4 percent from the field and just 31.6 percent from behind the arc. Rudy Gobert has seemingly maximized what offensive potential he had, and the center is averaging 14.7 points per game while serving as the Jazz’s defensive anchor. Ricky Rubio is still the same player he has been over his entire career: astoundingly average. The Jazz has a deep and strong rotation, but without Mitchell making a quantum leap over his outstanding rookie season, Utah has remained in mostly the same place it has been: Good, but not good enough, in the Western Conference.
Rookie Grayson Allen has provided precious little and appeared in just 17 games. Georges Niang has done close to nothing after looking like a potential star in the developmental league. Dante Exum never has blossomed and appears to be little more than a career backup with outstanding (yet deceiving flashes). It all goes back to Mitchell, and he is the one with the chance to make an ascent to a star-level player. Will he? Or will Utah remain in the limbo it appears to be after its strong 50-plus win season a year ago?
DEN TEAM NOTES:
Key behind the Denver Nuggets’ unorthodox attack is the play of “point-center” Nikola Jokic. The Nuggets run its offense through its talented 5-man, and Jokic leads all centers in assists per game at 7.5 per game. Adding that to his 19.2 points and 10.2 rebounds per game produce a team-best PER of 26.1 as Jokic is quietly one of the league’s best big men. His strong passing abilities enable the Nuggets to play Jamal Murray at the point guard position where he ranks No. 2 on the team in scoring at 18.3 points per game. The Nuggets have been without Will Barton the majority of the season, too, which is no small loss as he is the team’s No. 3 offensive option.
Oddly, Paul Millsap’s role has declined heavily this season and the former All-Star is averaging under 13 points per game. The Nuggets have a deep rotation of talented scorers and average 110.3 points per game with six players averaging double-figures. Among those is Monte Morris at 10.0 points per game and Malik Beasley nearly at 9.8 per game. Both are talented guards that are finally receiving their chances in the Denver Nuggets backcourt following the jettisoning of one-time Nugget Emmanuel Mudiay.
Denver also is able to go into its second unit and produce a similar style play given the talents of backup center Mason Plumlee. He functioned as a point-center of sorts while in Portland and he averages 2.4 assists per game in under 20 minutes of play. The Nuggets have a legitimate 9 or 10-man rotation and with Jokic it truly possesses a franchise player capable of making game-changing plays and having phenomenal nightly performances. Not many are still sleeping on what the Nuggets might be capable of in the 2019 postseason.
ATS TRENDS (c/o COVERS):