Cavaliers vs. Jazz Odds, Pick, Prediction: Back Cleveland as Road Underdog (January 12)

Cavaliers vs. Jazz Odds, Pick, Prediction: Back Cleveland as Road Underdog (January 12) article feature image

David Liam Kyle/NBAE via Getty Images. Pictured: Darius Garland #10 of the Cleveland Cavaliers.

  • The Cavaliers are underdogs on Wednesday night in Utah.
  • Cleveland will face a Jazz team without both Rudy Gobert and Hassan Whiteside.
  • Matt Moore breaks down the matchup and delivers his betting pick below.

Cavaliers vs. Jazz Odds

Cavaliers Odds+6
Jazz Odds-6
Time9 p.m. ET
TVNBA League Pass
Odds via BetRivers. Get up-to-the-minute NBA odds here.

The upstart Cleveland Cavaliers are trying and keep the ship steady amid a seas of injuries. The typically dominant Utah Jazz have been hit by COVID and are missing their franchise center.

Two tough-nose, big, physical teams meet Wednesday. Can the Cavs keep up their success as an underdog or will the Jazz get back on track even without the big fella?

Let's take a look at how both side look entering this matchup.

Cavaliers Have the Advantage Inside

The Cavaliers are hanging in and after a rough stretch following Rubio's injury, they've won three-of-five.

Cleveland boasts the second-best defense in the league adjusted for schedule per Dunks and Threes. They play an aggressive style, putting two at the level of the screen with rookie phenom Evan Mobley and presumptive All-Star Jarrett Allen.

Against Utah, this typically spells doom. Utah has the No. 1 offense in the league against coverage this season. What's interesting is that the absence of Gobert wouldn't normally hurt Utah in this situation because they can play Rudy Gay in that spot as playmaker, but Gay is also in health and safety protocols.

Cleveland's offense is pedestrian, but they have a huge advantage in this game without Gobert. They have so much size with their three-headed dragon of Lauri Markkanen, Mobley and Allen. Lineups with that trio generate the fifth-most points in the paint per 100 possessions of any three-man lineup in the league with a minimum 20 games played.

Without Gobert to protect the rim, the Cavs' bigs should feast both on lobs and on the offensive glass.

Jazz Slipping on Both Ends Without Rudy Gobert

Gobert is not LeBron James, or Giannis Antetokounmpo, Kevin Durant or Nikola Jokic. But quite honestly, Gobert is as valuable to his team as any player is to any team's success in the league.

The Jazz have built an entire system around Gobert on both ends of the floor. Their defense funnels drivers to Gobert instead of focusing on containment. Their offense relies on his picks to create space for its guards, which forces help and facilitates their ball movement. Gobert leads the NBA this season in points off screen assists — the amount of points that come directly from his screens — by a wide margin with 16.1 points per game.

Without him, the Jazz defense has fallen off an absolute cliff. Entering this game, they are 26th in Defensive Rating the past two weeks via Cleaning the Glass.

This, at its core, is the problem. Without Gobert, there's no one to protect the rim against Darius Garland drives or Jarrett Allen lobs. Utah is greatly undersized suddenly in this matchup. Even Udoka Azubuike would help, but he's out as well.

The Jazz may be successful against Cleveland's scheme regardless because they understand the passing triggers to beat it. But the absence of a lob threat makes it easier for the Cavs to stay home on shooters.

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Cavaliers-Jazz Pick

Based on halfcourt and transition matchups, I make this game a pick'em even at full health. Utah is a 4.6-point favorite under my power-rating projected spread. I can't get to Jazz -6 without Gobert under any conditions.

The Cavs have been underrated by the market all season — they are 16-9 as an underdog ATS this season, the fifth-most profitable team in that spot according to Bet Labs. I see no reason not to back the better ATS team given that oddsmakers seem to have underestimated Gobert's impact on the spread, as well as what the absence of Gay and Azubuike mean for the matchup.

I also lean toward the over here considering the defensive drop-off for the Jazz without Gobert, and Utah's performance vs. Cleveland's scheme will still be high even without Gobert.

Pick: Cavs +6 | Cavs ML | Over 223

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