Jazz vs. Lakers Odds, Pick & Preview: Value on Total as Los Angeles Plays Smallball

Jazz vs. Lakers Odds, Pick & Preview: Value on Total as Los Angeles Plays Smallball article feature image

Adam Pantozzi/NBAE via Getty Images. Pictured: LeBron James.

  • The Lakers host the Jazz in the NBA's MLK Day nightcap.
  • Rudy Gobert and the Jazz are road favorites against LeBron James and the Lakers
  • Check out Austin Wang's analysis and best bet below.

Jazz vs. Lakers Odds

Jazz Odds-5.5
Lakers Odds+5.5
Time10:30 p.m. ET
Odds via BetMGM. Get up-to-the-minute NBA odds here.

Just a couple of weeks ago, the Los Angeles Lakers went on a four-game winning streak and had fans thinking they had finally turned the corner. Well, it was all just a mirage. They've since lost three games in a row and have fallen below .500 again. They are who we thought they were.

The Utah Jazz snapped a four-game losing streak with a win in Denver on Sunday evening. They pulled away with a dominant fourth quarter. They've been going through several issues with health and safety protocols but are finally getting their guys healthy, including two-time Defensive Player of the Year Rudy Gobert.

The Jazz are on the second night of a back-to-back and will be traveling from Denver to Los Angeles. Can they get another win against the struggling Lakers? Let's break down this matchup.

Jazz Happy to Have Gobert Back

One of the reasons the Jazz have been struggling has been Rudy Gobert's absence. He has been cleared from health and safety protocols and returned on Sunday against the Nuggets. He had an incredible +37 plus/minus and a monster double-double with 18 points and 19 rebounds while going 9 of 9 from the field.

It is no surprise that the On/Off numbers show that the Defensive Rating decreases by 8.4 points with him off the court, per Basketball Reference.

With Gobert back, I like the Jazz to get back to their winning ways. He is the defensive anchor of this team and they really struggled to find the right rhythm on both ends of the court without his presence

Rudy Gay also returned to the lineup on Sunday. He has been providing valuable minutes off the bench all season.

One situation to monitor is the status of Mike Conley. Out of the six back-to-back sets the Jazz have played in, Conley rested in four out of the six. There is a chance he rests against the Lakers. However, he only logged in 23 minutes, so perhaps it was to conserve some of his minutes so he can play in the Lakers game.

The Jazz are on the second night of a back-to-back. They have not done well recently on the second night of a back-to-back while their opponents have had rest. They are 0-7 against the spread in this situation dating back to Apr. 13, 2021, per Bet Labs.

Lakers Still Can't Find It

While the Jazz beat the Nuggets handily on Sunday night, the Lakers were crushed by the Nuggets the night before, 133-96. The Lakers' defense has been non-existent.

The Lakers have been using their small-ball lineup with James at the center position. Would the Lakers try to expose Gobert’s perimeter defense by using LeBron James at center? Or will they try to give Dwight Howard more playing time to offset Gobert's size? If you observe that they are playing James at the five spot, the over could be a good look.

James didn't speak to reporters after their blowout loss against the Nuggets, which rarely happens. He followed up with this tweet:

#LakerNation I apologize and I promise we’ll be better! 👑💜💛

— LeBron James (@KingJames) January 17, 2022

Words are cheap. The people want to see action and results and expect King James to play with some extra motivation and take some accountability for the team's poor play as of late.

However, at the end of the day, you still have Russell Westbrook. The On/Off numbers show he has an impact of -2.0 to their Net Rating when he is on the court. His inefficient shooting and turnover-prone ways have been detrimental to the Lakers.

He's also seemed to add a new facet to his game: bricking shots off the backboard. He has shot 11 for 41 (26.8%) from the field during this three-game skid. He's made only one of his last 17 attempts from 3-point range. He's going to need to play smarter and defer more to his teammates if the Lakers will be successful.

Malik Monk has been one of their most reliable contributors, but James's other teammates have been inconsistent. Perhaps that loss against the Nuggets was the final straw and the Lakers will have all the motivation in the world to prove themselves against the Jazz.

Jazz-Lakers Pick

This will be the first meeting between the Lakers and the Jazz, so we don't have much insight on how they will match up.

I am staying away from the side. The Jazz are the superior team, but they haven't performed well in back-to-back sets. I also see a spot where the Jazz have a let-down after their blowout win whereas the Lakers are extra motivated after their blowout loss. With that said, I have a slight lean to the Lakers, but I do not trust them enough to put my hard-earned money on them.

With Lakers playing more small-ball lineups lately, I think the over is a good look as L.A. will try out-pace the Jazz. The Lakers' offense has certainly looked better with this strategy to match up with Utah's high-powered offense and fast pace. The Lakers are 9-1 to the over this season when their total is 225 or greater, per Bet Labs.

I'm taking the over at 232, but I can see the total coming down a bit throughout the day, so it may be prudent to wait.

Pick: Over 232

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