NBA Odds & Picks for Nets vs. Jazz: Injuries, Fatigue Place Value on Utah (Wednesday, March 24)
Mike Stobe/Getty Images. Pictured: James Harden #13 of the Brooklyn Nets.
Nets vs. Jazz Odds
|Moneyline||+375 / -500|
|Time||10 p.m. ET|
After their stretch of dominance, the Utah Jazz have leveled off going 7-6 in their past 13 games. Taking down a team a member of the NBA elite would help build the confidence needed to start another run.
Brooklyn seemed to steal the heat from the Jazz run as they have won 16-of-18. The big question facing the Nets in coming games though is who will be on the court?
Kyrie Irving has left the team for personal reasons, James Harden is battling a neck injury, and Kevin Durant is still sidelined with a hamstring injury. Adding to the injury questions is the difficulty of playing on a back-to-back with travel. As a team built on stars, playing in these circumstances is far optimal.
In a battle of teams fighting for top seeds, the Nets’ current health status gives the Jazz the edge. Let’s dig deeper to see if they have what it takes to also beat the spread.
As a team built with little depth, a matchup with Utah has come at the wrong time. Not only will Irving and Durant be out, but a dogfight with the Trail Blazers leaves the rest of the team exhausted and without rest. With a break much needed and a lingering neck injury, the Nets may choose to let Harden sit out too.
If Harden sits out, things will look bleak for the Nets. Per FantasyLabs, when Irving, Durant, and Harden are off the court all players on the Nets’ roster have a negative Net Rating. All but Joe Harris are actually worse than -6.0.
If Harden plays, there will be hope for Nets’ fans but it will still be a long-shot. The Nets defense allows teams to score on-demand on a good night. Now, they will be tired and trying to stop one of the league’s best offenses. They might be able to keep up early in the game, but as fatigue kicks in, this could be one where a small Jazz run snowballs into a lot more.
While Utah’s record in recent games suggests it could be time to panic, the numbers may suggest otherwise. For starters, the Jazz Net Rating of +4.6 in the past 13 games still ranks top eight in that time per NBA Advanced Stats. The offense has maintained its high level of efficiency around 117 but the defense is a different story. The Jazz Defensive Rating has gone from the respectable number of 108.7 up to a below-average mark at 112.7.
The difference in defensive performance has come mostly from how opponents attack the Jazz. In their past 13 games, the average Pace is up to 100.77. By increasing the pace, teams have found opportunities to attack inside before Rudy Gobert can patrol the paint.
Against Brooklyn, Utah’s defense may not be as exposed though. The Nets slowed things down recently playing at a Pace of 98.21 in their past 13 games. On the second night of a back-to-back, utilizing pace will likely not be how the Nets choose to attack.
While a back-to-back hurts any team’s chances of winning, the Nets might be the team most impacted. According to Real GM Brooklyn has the fourth oldest roster in the NBA. This means the time needed to fully recover takes a little longer.
Against the Jazz, fatigue is more costly than against other teams. Recent weeks have shown the key to scoring against the Jazz involves getting inside when Gobert is not there. The most obvious time to do so is in transition before he can get back. Trying to keep the pace up though would likely exhaust the Nets too much to maintain for four quarters.
The catch with playing at a slower pace is it allows Utah to live in its comfort zone. The Jazz built their offensive and defensive systems on winning the 3-point battle. Not only do they make the most per game, they also allow the fewest made per game. This forces opposing defenses to cover the whole court and opposing offenses to work for every shot. As you can guess where this is heading, working harder on defense and offense is not what an unrested team wants.
Rest is not something I usually like to emphasize so much when breaking down games. However, Brooklyn’s age and shortened rotation due to injury make the impact of missing days off even more significant. Pairing those compound effects with a matchup against Utah, a team strongest in the half-court, and the value becomes clear.
I grabbed this line at -6 and it has since moved to double digits. If the line falls back to down, I recommend grabbing it at -9.
Pick: -Jazz 9 or better