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NBA Odds & Picks for Suns vs. Jazz: Total Presents Value in Enticing Matchup

NBA Odds & Picks for Suns vs. Jazz: Total Presents Value in Enticing Matchup article feature image

Christian Petersen/Getty Images. Pictured: Chris Paul.

Suns vs. Jazz Odds

Suns Odds +3.5 [BET NOW]
Jazz Odds -3.5 [BET NOW]
Moneyline +135 / -161 [BET NOW]
Over/Under 218.5 [BET NOW]
Time 9 p.m. ET
Odds as of Wednesday at 8:30 p.m. ET and via BetMGM. Get an INSTANT $500 deposit match at BetMGM today or see more offers and reviews for the best online sportsbooks.

It’s going to be a good one on Thursday night when the Phoenix Suns face the Utah Jazz in what could easily be a playoff preview — and maybe not even a first-round matchup.

The Suns are off to a great start at 3-1 and appear to be picking up very much where they left off with their undefeated run in the bubble. Devin Booker and Deandre Ayton continue to look like potential All-Stars, while Mikal Bridges and Cam Johnson fill it up on the wing. Chris Paul is the big new addition, and he has settled in quickly.

The Jazz look very much like the team we remember from the bubble because they didn’t make any major changes. The starting lineup remains intact, and the biggest move of the offseason was probably the return of Derrick Favors, who spent last season with the Pelicans to add some heft to the big-man rotation.

The Jazz look like what they’ve always been while the Suns are trying to break into the playoff rotation. Which team has the upper hand in this early matchup?

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Phoenix Suns

It would be easy to look at the Suns winning games and see this as a natural extension of the success the team had in the bubble, but it would also be a mistake. That doesn’t mean Booker, Ayton, Bridges, and other young players aren’t continuing to take big steps forward — they are — but what Phoenix is doing so well right now is not necessarily the same thing that gave it success at the end of last season.

And the reason for that is Paul, the sort of transcendent star who changes everything about a team. In the Suns’ case, that means much more time spent on offense with a point guard handling the ball and more off ball work for Booker, which has opened up the offense and already seems to be working. Paul is Phoenix’s best player on the court even when he isn’t taking shots.

Paul also loves to slow things down and grind out the half-court possessions, and that is showing up statistically. Phoenix ranked 10th in pace last season. This season, entering play on Wednesday, the Suns rank No. 28 in the league according to Basketball Reference. The offense has changed around CP3 in a way that will likely hold up better come playoff time.

The defense has also improved some with Paul. That defense was already taking a big step forward in the bubble, with Bridges looking like a potential All-Defense player and Ayton taking a big step forward.

Now, Paul is another weapon at the point of attack. The Suns’ defense now ranks in the top half of the league and is still improving.

Phoenix is really good, looking as good as any team in the Western Conference so far.

Utah Jazz

While the Suns need a lot of unpacking and investigating, there’s not much new to learn about the Jazz. Utah looks very much like it did a year ago.

Donovan Mitchell dominates the ball on offense, and Bojan Bogdanovic is back after missing the bubble. Mike Conley and Joe Ingles do some handling and creating too, and Rudy Gobert is the linchpin of Utah’s defense.

The Jazz are still a defense-first team, though like last season, the defense is not what it once was when the team was starting Ricky Rubio and Favors with Gobert back at the end of the 2018-19 season. This is a more balanced team, for better and for worse.

The offense is improved but not yet great, and the price of that upgrade is that the defense is no longer great either. Like last season, Utah looks like it will hover around the 10th best offense and defense, and the Jazz are already floating in that range early in the season.

Utah is 2-1 after surviving a late scare against Oklahoma City. The Jazz have been dominating the glass and hoisting a ton of 3-pointers, but like usual, they’re going to slow the game down and grind it out. They’re also typically one of the great home teams in the NBA, thanks to an elevation advantage that should play in their favor, regardless of the lack of fans in pandemic.

Suns-Jazz Pick

This should be a great matchup to see just how far the Suns have come with Paul. The Suns are coming off dominant wins over the Kings and Pelicans, but it’s hard to know yet just how impressed we should be by either victory.

The Jazz will be Phoenix’s toughest test of the season.

I think the wrong team is favored here, though Utah is the more seasoned of the two and the home-court advantage factor is real here. The Jazz also have an extra day of rest under their belt.

Combine that with the relatively untested Suns, and I’d still lean toward Phoenix but will probably stay away from the spread.

Instead, I’m looking to play the under at 218.5 here. The Suns’ under is 4-0 this season and Utah’s is 2-1, and neither team has played in a game with a total over 220 yet this season.

Remember, Paul’s addition has slowed the Suns’ pace down and greatly improved their defense, both of which point to the under.

I’m not sure the books have adjusted enough yet because this should be a slow, defensive game. I’ll play the under to 217 and see if my read on the Suns as the better team looks right along the way.

Pick: Under 218.5 (bet down to 217)

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