Jazz vs. Lakers NBA Odds & Picks: How to Find Value Without Donovan Mitchell (April 17)

Jazz vs. Lakers NBA Odds & Picks: How to Find Value Without Donovan Mitchell (April 17) article feature image
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Jeff Swinger/NBAE via Getty Images. Pictured: Joe Ingles #2 and Jordan Clarkson #00 of the Utah Jazz.

  • Utah was dealt a big blow in losing Donovan Mitchell for some time due to an injury on Friday.
  • Anthony Davis was cleared for basketball activities, but he still won't play Saturday.
  • Austin Wang has set his eyes on the total.

Editor’s note: The Utah Jazz will be without Rudy Gobert, Donovan Mitchell and Mike Conley Saturday. For more, check out today’s injury report.

Jazz vs. Lakers Odds

Jazz Odds -8.5
Lakers Odds +8.5
Moneyline -385 / +295
Over/Under 217.5
Time Saturday, 4:30 p.m. ET
TV ESPN
Odds as of Friday and via DraftKings

On Saturday, the Los Angeles Lakers host the Utah Jazz in the first game of a two-game series. The Lakers got some great news as of late, with Anthony Davis being cleared for on-court activity after being out since Jan. 28 and missing 31 games, but he won’t be returning for Saturday’s game against the Jazz.

The Lakers are 34-22 and currently fifth in the Western Conference. They haven’t fallen too far down the standings after losing LeBron James and Davis, but now they must face the first-place Utah Jazz, who continue to rock and roll.

However, on Friday evening, the Jazz  lost Donovan Mitchell to an ankle injury, and while early reports have been positive that he is not going to miss much time, he will miss Saturday’s game.  This will even up the matchup between the two teams, and without Utah’s best scorer, I have my eyes set on the total.

Utah Jazz

The Jazz wrapped up a five-game homestand and will be starting a three-game road trip with a back-to-back. With Mitchell injuring his ankle Friday, it is common sense that losing one of the most prolific scorers in the league will hurt your offense, but it is worth noting that the Jazz Defensive Rating improves by 6.4 with him off the court, per Basketball Reference.

The Jazz do have some other strong scorers that can pick up the slack in Mitchell’s absence, such as Jordan Clarkson, Joe Ingles and Bojan Bogdanovic, but they are highly dependent on the 3-pointer.

The Jazz continue to bomb away 3-pointers, leading the league in 3-point attempt rate (49% of all field goal attempts) and ranking fourth in 3-point percentage (38.71%). The Lakers tend to guard against the 3-pointer quite well and are second in the league in 3-point percentage allowed (34.5%)

In an era of small ball and high-volume 3-point shooting, Gobert is proof that the big man is still relevant, having cemented himself as a frontrunner for Defensive Player of the Year. He leads the league in Defensive Win Shares (4.0), is second in Defensive Rating (100.9), according to Basketball Reference, and is averaging a career-high 2.8 blocks per game. The On/Off numbers show that the Jazz’s Defensive Rating decreases by an astonishing 10.5 points when he is off the court.

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Los Angeles Lakers

It is no surprise the Lakers are struggling on offense right now without their two superstars James and Davis. In the last five games, the Lakers rank 24th in Offensive Rating (109.8), according to NBA Advanced Stats. However, their defense has still been strong, especially with the addition of Andre Drummond.

They’ve continued to keep the pace slow, ranking 19th (98.6) over the past five games. With Drummond and Gasol both in the lineup, I expect it to keep it slow.

One of their better scorers, Dennis Schroder, has had to take on a much larger burden on offense since James has been out. However, he will have Mike Conley guarding him, who is a strong defender that can help limit his production.

In the five home games they have played without James since his injury, they have gone 4-1 to the under, per the Sports Data Query Language database. Without the King, their offense is continuing to stall. In addition, the Lakers have had tendencies to not play well at home this season. I don’t expect them to have much success against the stout Jazz defense.

Since the 2018-2019 season when the Lakers play an opponent with a win percentage of greater than .666, those games have gone 28-12 (70%) to the under, per the SDQL database. The Lakers ramp up their defense when playing in these marquee games.

Jazz-Lakers Pick

Since the 2010-2011 season, when two elite teams (defined as win percentage greater than .600) play each other after the All-Star break, those games have gone 195-126-10 (60.7%) to the under, per the SDQL database. These teams tend to play more defense against conference rivals when they are fighting for seeding. This should hold especially true for these two strong defensive teams even without some key players.

These two teams already met back on Feb. 24 and had a combined score of 203 in a Jazz beatdown of the Lakers. With Mitchell not playing, there is no reason to think this will not be another low-scoring game.

I make the fair total on this game 213, and my recommendation is to play the under. I also like the Lakers to cover the generous spread at home.

Pick: Under 217 (down to 214)

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