Friday Betting Odds, Preview, Prediction for Jazz vs. Grizzlies: Back Ja Morant to Carry Memphis

Friday Betting Odds, Preview, Prediction for Jazz vs. Grizzlies: Back Ja Morant to Carry Memphis article feature image

Justin Ford/Getty Images. Pictured: Ja Morant.

  • The Memphis Grizzlies host the Utah Jazz in Friday night NBA action.
  • The Grizzlies have been tremendous against the NBA's top-tier teams, but the Jazz have really struggled in that area and have a few injury concerns.
  • Austin Wang shares his best bet for tonight's game below.

Jazz vs. Grizzlies Odds

Jazz Odds+3.5
Grizzlies Odds-3.5
Time8 p.m. ET
TVNBA League Pass
Odds via DraftKings. Get up-to-the-minute NBA odds here.

The amazing Ja Morant was recently named an NBA All-Star for the first time in his career. He's currently the frontrunner for Most Improved Player (-320 at DraftKings). But I say forget the MIP award — game by game, he is showing that he should be in consideration for the MVP.

He has led the Grizzlies to a 33-17 record and the third seed in the Western Conference, recently supplanting the Utah Jazz in that spot.

The Jazz are running cold, losers of nine of their last 11 games. They've been hit hard with some injuries and players in health and safety protocols, but some of these losses have been inexcusable.

This included two outright losses to the Houston Rockets and the Detroit Pistons as double-digit favorites. This has not been a good look for a team that was expected to be title contenders.

Can they turn things around? Rudy Gobert has already been declared out, and we're unsure about Donovan Mitchell's status. Potentially missing their two best players is not a good sign for the Jazz.

Let's break down this game to see if there are any betting edges in Friday night's matchup between two of the top teams in the Western Conference.

Can We Trust the Jazz?

Just about a month ago, I had the Jazz at the top of my power ratings.

Their depth and excellence on both sides of the floor had me confident they were just as good as the Phoenix Suns and Golden State Warriors. Their recent collapse has me rethinking this, but it's a long season, and they can turn things around.

Gobert is out due to his calf strain. Mitchell, however, has been upgraded to questionable after his concussion.

Even if he returns, I'm always wary of backing a team when a superstar returns from a multi-game absence. The team will have to adjust to integrating a high-usage player like Mitchell back into the lineup. I can see him being rusty, and I see Utah potentially struggling out the gate.

The Jazz's numbers in January are nothing to be proud of. They're ranked 24th in Defensive Rating (114.9) this month, per NBA Advanced Stats. Without Gobert in the middle, I can see Morant taking advantage and driving to the hoop all night long. The on/off numbers show that the Jazz's Defensive Rating worsens by 7.2 points when Gobert is off the court, per Basketball-Reference.

The Jazz have struggled against the elite teams in the NBA. They have lost six straight games against teams with a win percentage greater than 60%, per the Sports Data Query Language at Gimme the Dog. The Grizzlies fit into this category of a top-tier team that the Jazz have underperformed against.

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Grizzlies Leaning on Morant

The Grizzlies have three key rotation players out due to health and safety protocols, including Kyle Anderson, Dillon Brooks and Tyus Jones. De'Anthony Melton has done well in Jones' absence, giving the Grizzlies a nice defensive boost when he's in the game.

They recently got Desmond Bane back in the lineup, and he's having a breakout sophomore campaign. averaging 17.8 points per game on 46.9% shooting from the field and 41.9% from behind the arc. He returned last game after a three-game absence and continued right where he left off, scoring 20 points in a win against the Spurs.

With one game under his belt, Bane should be fully healthy with no restrictions going forward.

The injuries haven't mattered too much, as Morant continued his amazing leap this season. He’s scored 30 points in four consecutive games and makes the big plays during clutch time when they're needed the most.

Without some of their depth and best scorers, the Grizzlies offense has taken a dip. In the last five games, they're only 26th in the league in Offensive Rating (103.9). Their offense has not been as efficient, but perhaps they can bounce back against a Jazz defense that has really struggled.

Contrary to the Jazz, the Grizzlies have performed well against the NBA's top-tier teams.

They are 8-4 straight up and against the spread versus teams with a win percentage of 60% or greater. They've gone 6-1 straight up and against the spread in their previous seven games against these elite teams, per the SDQL. This includes a 119-118 win over the Jazz on Nov. 22.

Jazz-Grizzlies Pick

The Grizzlies are the more well-rested team. They've been on the road, but their game on Wednesday was the only other day they've played this week. The Jazz, meanwhile, are playing their fourth game in six nights.

Utah has been playing too poorly for me to back, and with Gobert out another game, I think Memphis takes care of business at home.

However, I find it important to wait until Mitchell's injury news is finalized. If he's in, you will get a cheaper price on the Grizzlies. If he's declared out or considered doubtful, try to grab it as fast as you can.

Pick: Grizzlies -2.5

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