Friday NBA Odds, Picks Predictions: Jazz vs. Suns Betting Preview (April 30)
Michael Gonzales/NBAE via Getty Images. Pictured: Phoenix Suns standouts Deandre Ayton, left, and Chris Paul.
- The Phoenix Suns will take on the Utah Jazz in a battle of two teams fighting for the No. 1 seed in the West.
- The Suns have already toppled the Jazz twice this season, and unlike tonight, those Utah teams had Donovan Mitchell and Mike Conley out on the floor.
- Raheem Palmer breaks down the game below and shares a betting pick based on his analysis.
Jazz vs. Suns Odds
|Moneyline||+145 / -177|
|Time||Friday, 10 p.m. ET|
The Utah Jazz have had a dream season.
After blowing a 3-1 lead in bubble, they’ve responded about as well as one could hope. They’ve been downright dominant as they hold the best record in the league at 45-17 and have won a whopping 35 games by 10 points or more.
For much of this season, the Jazz had the No. 1 seed in the Western Conference locked up, and it seemed unfathomable that anyone could catch them. An injury to Donovan Mitchell and a 6-4 stretch was all it took to leave the door ajar for a Phoenix Suns team that has been just as dominant.
To our surprise, with just a few weeks left in the regular season, they sit at 44-18, just one game behind the Jazz for the top seed in the West.
The Suns hold the tiebreaker by virtue of winning two previous matchups, but now they meet again for the third and final time in Phoenix in a pivotal matchup for seeding in the Western Conference playoff race.
Unfortunately for the Jazz, they’re shorthanded for this matchup, and oddsmakers have set the Suns as 5-point home favorites.
So, where is the betting value in this Western Conference showdown? Let’s find out.
The Jazz have been the best team all season long. They’re third in Offensive Rating, scoring 118.8 points per 100 possessions in non-garbage time minutes, and rank first in Defensive Rating, allowing just 107.4 points per 100 possessions, according to Cleaning the Glass.
They raced out to a seemingly insurmountable lead in the Western Conference, and until the right ankle injury to Mitchell, it appeared that this team had the No. 1 seed locked up. With losses to the Wizards, Lakers, and Timberwolves, they’ve left the door open for the Suns to overtake the No. 1 seed.
There have been plenty of debates over who is the better player between Rudy Gobert and Donovan Mitchell. While I reserve my judgment on this conversation, Mitchell hasn’t played since April 16, and since then, we’ve seen this offense drop off, as it has scored just 115.1 points per 100 possessions, 10th among NBA teams during this stretch.
If you exclude Utah’s 154-105 victory over the Kings in which it had an Offensive Rating of 153.5, the Jazz are scoring just 107.6 points per 100 possessions in Mitchell’s absence. That’s 25th in Offensive Rating during that time period.
While the on/off numbers have the Jazz scoring just +2.1 points per 100 possessions better with Mitchell on the floor, it can’t be understated how much losing a combo guard who is averaging 26.4 points, 5.2 assists and 4.4 rebounds and can get to the rim and shoot the 3 drops this team down a notch.
The Jazz can survive the injury to Mitchell alone, but they’re now dealing with the absence of Mike Conley, who will miss his second straight game with a hamstring injury.
The Jazz had no issues taking care of business with a 49-point win without their two All-Star point guards against the Sacramento Kings, who were missing both De’Aaron Fox and Harrison Barnes.
However, a matchup against the Suns, who have already defeated them twice, is troubling.
Containing Chris Paul and Devin Booker was difficult enough under normal circumstances, but now the Jazz will be tasked with defending them without their two starting guards.
In their April 7 matchup, Paul scored 29 on 12-of-24 shooting, while Booker dropped 35 points on 13-of-31 shooting. There just aren’t other players on this Jazz roster you want guarding this duo, which means the Jazz will likely need their offense to get going to have a chance in this game.
In Wednesday’s 154-105 victory over the Kings, the Jazz shot 24-of-41 (58.5%) from behind the arc. For a team that’s shooting the highest frequency of 3-point field goals (45.6%) and making a league-high 17 3s per game, how they shoot from downtown will loom large in this matchup.
Unfortunately for the Jazz, they’ll be facing a Suns team that is solid at defending the 3-point line. With no Conley and Mitchell, you can expect Jordan Clarkson to have the green light, but that’s not necessarily a good thing.
Overall, this feels like a game in which we can see the offense struggle to score efficiently against a Suns team that has a top-10 defense despite slipping recently.
The Suns showed the rest of the NBA why they are serious contenders on their recent five game East Coast road trip. They went 3-2 with wins over the Milwaukee Bucks, Philadelphia 76ers and New York Knicks while dropping games against the Brooklyn Nets and Boston Celtics.
They followed that up by clinching a playoff berth against the Los Angeles Clippers at home on Wednesday night, and they’re now 7-3 in their last 10 games.
This marks the first time since the 2009-10 season the Suns will make the playoffs, a year in which they made the Western Conference Finals, eventually losing to the eventual NBA champions in the Los Angeles Lakers.
With the way this year’s Suns have been playing, you have to wonder if they’re on the path to the conference finals themselves.
Chris Paul has become the latest player to join the #AnyoneButJokic MVP tour, as he’s the best player on a team that continues to dominate night in and night out. The Suns are 22-9 against teams .500 and above and 22-9 against teams below .500, so there are very few letdown spots for this team.
Phoenix sits seventh in Offensive Rating (116.7) and fifth in Defensive Rating (110.5) in its non-garbage time minutes, according to Cleaning the Glass. The Suns haven’t skipped a beat offensively, ranking sixth in Offensive Rating and scoring 116.7 points per 100 possessions over the past two weeks.
As I’ve mentioned previously in some of the Suns game guides I’ve written, their defense has slipped recently. Over the past two weeks, they’re just 28th in Defensive Rating, allowing opposing teams to score 119 points per 100 possessions. Keep in mind, the Suns have played a very tough schedule recently with some of the best offenses in the league while on the road. In addition, they’ve also played a condensed schedule. At one point during the road trip, they were playing their seventh game in 11 nights, so it’s only fair to expect some slippage.
The Suns have also been missing two solid defenders in Dario Saric and Jae Crowder, who have missed the last few games with injuries. Saric is likely to play and Crowder is questionable, so make sure you check our site for up to date lineup news.
In many ways, this Jazz team without Mitchell and Conley is actually a step down in class from the teams they’ve played recently.
In two games this season against healthy Jazz teams, the Suns held them to Offensive Ratings of 99.7 and 103.2, so they should have no problems slowing down this team Friday night. With the Suns ranking sixth in opponent 3-point shooting percentage (35.9%) and the Jazz shooting a high percentage of their field goals from 3, this feels like a favorable matchup defensively.
The Suns have already defeated full-strength versions of the Jazz by nine and four this season. Interestingly enough, the final scores of those games didn’t quite do them justice, as the Suns held a 21-point lead in their 106-95 win on Dec. 31 and a 13-point lead in their win on April 7.
In both games, the Suns jumped out to double-digit deficits before the Jazz shortened the lead and made it a game in the second half. A reminder: these were full-strength Jazz teams with Mitchell and Conley.
Unfortunately, this information is priced into the line and oddsmakers have opened this spread Suns -5 for a reason. Still, I’m not sure you can make this line high enough without two All-Star point guards in the lineup for Utah.
This is just a rough matchup for the Jazz, and they come into this game banged up. Given the playoff experience of the Jazz, it makes sense for them to prioritize rest over chasing the top seed.
The Suns, meanwhile, have put the pedal to the metal all season long. On Wednesday, they clinched their first playoff berth since 2009-10. On Friday, they should win and cover as they take control of the Western Conference.
I’ll take the Suns -5 before the public pushes this to a point where it’s all but unbettable.
Pick: Suns -4
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