Clippers vs. Jazz Odds, Pick & Preview: L.A. Undervalued on the Road (December 15)

Clippers vs. Jazz Odds, Pick & Preview: L.A. Undervalued on the Road (December 15) article feature image

Rocky Widner/Getty Images. Pictured: Reggie Jackson

  • The Clippers face the Jazz in a rematch of from the 2021 playoffs.
  • The Jazz have been playing great basketball lately, but can they finally start covering consistently at home?
  • Kenny Ducey breaks down this matchup and shares his best bet below.

Clippers vs. Jazz Odds

Clippers Odds+9.5
Jazz Odds-9.5
Time10 p.m. ET
Odds via BetMGM. Get up-to-the-minute NBA odds here.

Something's got to give on Wednesday night when the Clippers travel to Utah to take on the Jazz. Both teams enter on winning streaks, though the Jazz will be returning home where they have had some issues covering spreads.

Can the Jazz shake their ATS woes in Utah and overcome a pesky Clippers team, or will L.A.'s defense make this one competitive? Let's take a closer look at this matchup.

Clippers Defend Well Regardless of Injuries

L.A. has recovered from a slight 12-game stumble where they lost eight times, including twice to the lowly Pelicans. The Clippers enter Wednesday's tilt with the Jazz on a four-game winning streak, fresh off some confidence-building wins over the Trail Blazers, Celtics and Suns. The most impressive win came on Monday against the Suns as they were 3.5-point home underdogs, in a game played without Paul George.

George enters this game as questionable with the same right elbow sprain that kept him out against Phoenix, and Nic Batum (ankle) is also questionable. Serge Ibaka, who had provided a bit of a jolt after returning a few weeks ago, is now out for personal reasons.

Regardless of players in and out of the lineup, the Clippers have remained strong on the defensive end. They've ranked fourth in that area all season long with a 104.7 Defensive Rating, and over the past four games have shined, allowing just 102.3 points per 100 possessions to rank third in the league. It's a return to the great basketball L.A. played at the beginning of the season and a testament to the incredible depth and coaching the Clippers have.

The Clippers have also excelled at defending the paint this year. In the restricted area, specifically, they have allowed just 60.3% shooting — ranking third in the NBA. That's dropped to 54.5% over the last four games, which is second to only the Bulls over that span.

Matchup Could Challenge Utah's Shooters

If you think the Clippers are rolling, the Jazz are definitely rolling. Utah has won seven in a row, going 5-2 against the spread over that span. The last three wins — and covers — have all come on the road, and now Utah will return home where it is just 7-6 ATS.

That's despite shooting 38.6% from behind the arc at home compared to 37.2% on the road. While both are solid numbers, it's very fascinating to see the Jazz shoot that well and still find trouble pulling away from opponents.

We discussed the Clippers' prowess at defending at the rim earlier, so we should mention the fact that the Jazz are shooting a league-best 70.9% in the restricted area and 47.8% in the paint — also a league-high. While the Jazz opt for 3-point shots a little more often, they won't find much joy against the Clippers' sixth-ranked 3-point defense.

Other than that, there isn't much new with the Jazz, whose dominance this year has been well-documented. The one fair criticism of this team, other than its performance at home, would be the slight multi-game lapses on the defensive end we've seen at times.

Utah ranks 12th in Defensive Efficiency over the last seven games, allowing 3.2 more points per 100 possessions than their season average. While it's not the worst mark in the world, it's still not up to their lofty standards.

Clippers-Jazz Pick

A lot of the luster the Clippers had during their playoff run last year has worn off, but I still believe this to be a very good basketball team — and one which is capable of giving the Jazz a game in Utah — where they have struggled to cover all year.

The Clippers' exceptional defense around the rim and at the 3-point line should make life very difficult on Utah. With two very slow paced teams, there shouldn't be enough possessions to separate both of these sides by more than nine points given the margin I'm seeing between the two.

I'd expect the Clippers to get Paul George back after he was able to rest, but you might be wise to set up some push notifications and wait to get this in once George is declared available. That would save you in the event L.A. sits him again..

Still, the Clippers showcased against the Suns that they have plenty of scoring available on the wings with Reggie Jackson, Luke Kennard and Terance Mann, in addition to the steady Marcus Morris. While the four of them can't give you what George can, they should at least be capable of holding this to single digits.  

Pick: Clippers +9.5 (-110)

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