Grizzlies vs. Jazz Odds, Game 1 Preview, Prediction: How to Back Utah Against Memphis (May 23)
Jeff Swinger/NBAE via Getty Images. Pictured: Donovan Mitchell #45 of the Utah Jazz.
Editor’s note: Donovan Mitchell is not expected to play in Game 1, according to ESPN late on Sunday afternoon.
Grizzlies vs. Jazz Odds
|Moneyline||+320 / -420|
|Time||Sunday, 9:30 p.m. ET|
|Odds as of Sunday and via BetMGM|
The assumption entering the final game of the NBA’s play-in tournament on Friday night was that Stephen Curry was going to will the Warriors past the Grizzlies with a dazzling shooting display, and that Golden State would proceed to give the Utah Jazz an entertaining first-round test.
Well, Memphis was having none of that. The Grizz pulled out a gutsy overtime win in San Francisco, packed their bags, and headed to Salt Lake City. There, they’ll face a Jazz team that hasn’t played for a week and is likely to get Donovan Mitchell back.
Let’s break down how all of that translates to betting value.
Grizzlies Will Look to Morant for Offensive Inspiration
Memphis’ hectic week continues. After losing a road game against the Warriors last Sunday to determine the No. 8 team in the Western Conference, the Grizzlies beat the Spurs on Wednesday to force a rematch in the Bay Area. Memphis won that game in overtime, and here they are, in Salt Lake City for their fourth game in seven nights.
The Grizzlies ended the season red hot for bettors against the spread (ATS) and if you kept backing them on the right side of the total. Memphis covered six of its past seven games, going 6-1 straight-up, as well. It covered on Friday night in overtime as underdogs against Golden State and went over the total because of overtime.
Memphis finished the regular season 6-2, although their metrics wouldn’t indicate that. The Grizzlies ranked 13th in Offensive Rating over that stretch and 12th in Defensive Rating, which put them 10th in Net Rating.
While the Jazz are going to unleash a 3-point barrage on the Grizzlies, don’t expect the same from Memphis. The Grizz averaged 31.4 3-point attempts per game this season, and they attempted just 35 against the Warriors on Friday night including overtime.
Memphis’ offense goes through Ja Morant, who played 41 minutes against the Spurs in the 9 vs. 10 play-in game and then 46 of a possible 53 against Golden State. Morant thrived against the Warriors, as he was able to get into the paint comfortably throughout the game and finished with 35 points. If he shoots anything like the 5-of-10 from 3-point range that he did on Friday, Utah will be in trouble.
Dillon Brooks was the primary defender on Stephen Curry in the two important games that Memphis played against Golden State over the past week, so the assumption would be he’s tasked with trying to contain Mitchell.
Another assumption: It won’t be as easy for Morant to get into the paint as it was for him against the Warriors.
Jazz Get Superstar Scorer Back
Without Mitchell, the Jazz finished the regular season 10-5 with an NBA-best Net Rating of 9.8 in that span, according to NBA Advanced Stats.
What was most impressive was their league-leading 106.2 Defensive Rating. Utah is thriving on that end of the court, which is key at this point in the season.
Offensively, the Jazz are going to live or die by the 3-point ball, as they have all season. Utah led the NBA with 43 attempts from beyond the arc this season, and ranked fourth in efficiency at 38.9% from deep. The Grizzlies were in the middle of the pack against the 3-ball this season defensively.
Assuming Mitchell is healthy, it’s a big boost to a Jazz team that is looking to break through in the playoffs this season. Utah is coming off a stellar regular season, but doesn’t want to become know for postseason let downs and have its year mean nothing.
For bettors, the Jazz were extremely profitable this season. Utah covered five of its last seven games of the season with losses to the Blazers and Warriors being the blips. The Jazz ended the season with three straight unders after four straight overs.
Utah was 41-31 for the season ATS and 33-38-1 to the under. At home, the Jazz were 23-13 ATS.
As if the series feels like a tall task for the Grizzlies, Game 1 will be an especially daunting task. They will have played four games in a different city each time (twice in San Francisco) over the past week, and this one comes against the best team in the Western Conference that is getting its All-Star guard back.
I like Utah to comfortably cover in Game 1 at home. The number sits at -8.5 as of Saturday night, although I expect that to go up since it’s already at -9 at one book. Play the Jazz up to -9.5 here.
Pick: Jazz -8.5 (up to -9.5)