Jazz vs Grizz NBA Handicapping
How did it come to this?
How did the Utah Jazz have a playoff spot pretty much in hand less than two months ago, win 8 of their last 10 games, and still find themselves in must-win pickle tonight on the road against a good team that has also plenty of incentive?
Utah Jazz (43-38) at Memphis Grizzlies (55-26)
Wednesday, April 17
8 p.m. EST
Spread – Grizzlies -5 at Topbet
O/U – 186
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Blame a horrid late-February to late-March stretch in which the Jazz lost a slew of tight games and seemed to be able to beat only the Phoenix’s and Philadelphias of the league and couldn’t elevate their game – even at home – against the iron.
Utah’s cave allowed the Lakers an opening, and Los Angeles is in a position tonight to come from out of nowhere to grab the No. 8 seed.
The reality facing the Jazz tonight in Memphis is this: They have to beat the Grizzlies on the road (no mean feat: Memphis is 31-9 at home this season), then hope that the beat-up Lakers lose AT home to Houston. Any other outcome leaves Utah on the outside looking in.
Can the Jazz grow a spine in Memphis after basically mailing in games on the road all season? Won’t be easy. [ad-6571516]
Utah has won only 13 of 40 road games this season and has won only once in Memphis in its last six trips. If you put any stock in previous results, Utah took one on the chin at FedEx early this season, fading in the second half and going down by 11.
Utah’s beat shot lies with Al Jefferson. The Jazz’s meal ticket scorched the Timberwolves in back-to-back games this past Friday and Monday, averaging 31 points and 11 boards.
Jefferson, shooting better than 59 percent from the field in April, needs to get it done tonight or it will be lights out early.
The Grizzlies, in the midst of the best regular season in franchise history, need a win tonight and a Clippers loss in Sacramento to gain home-court advantage over LA in the first round of the playoffs. So the Jazz can hardly count on Memphis rolling over for them tonight, though the Jazz clearly have lot more to lose than the Grizzlies do in this one.
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Utah’s recent streak has been built mainly at home, although the Jazz did take down the T-Wolves, Warriors and Trail Blazers on the road.
Still, the Jazz always seem to do something late in games that cost them wins (and covers) away from Salt Lake City. Memphis digs in defensively and grinds teams down in the second halves of games, and Grizz coach Lionel Hollins says he wants one more solid effort from his starters, who were ineffective in a victory at Dallas on Monday.
Liking Memphis on the money line here, but Utah to cover in a tight, low-scoring game.