Jazz vs. Pelicans NBA Odds & Picks: Keep Backing Utah to Cover (Monday, March 1)
Jeff Swinger/NBAE via Getty Images. Pictured: Rudy Gobert.
- The NBA's best team against the spread takes the court on Monday night against Zion Williamson and the Pelicans.
- Utah matches up very well against New Orleans, which is one of the worst teams in the NBA defensively.
- Phillip Kall lays out why bettors should keep backing the Jazz.
Jazz vs. Pelicans Odds
|Moneyline||-270 / +215|
|Time||8 p.m. ET|
|Odds as of Sunday night and via PointsBet.|
In addition to boasting the best record in the NBA at 27-7, the Utah Jazz have rewarded bettors who have backed them throughout the season by going 25-9 against the spread.
The Jazz have even improved that success rate by covering 11 of their past 14 games. All of Utah’s success has it sitting with a historically great +9.93 Net Rating, according to Basketball Reference. The only test remaining is if the Jazz can continue this dominance all season and into the playoffs.
But for now, while everything goes right for the Jazz, the New Orleans Pelicans have not been as fortunate. Winning just three of their past 10 games, New Orleans will hope upsetting Utah puts them back on track. To do so, the Pelicans need to fix their perimeter defense, with teams shooting 44% from 3-point land during that 10-game stretch.
The line for this matchup opened at Utah -8 but quickly had movement toward New Orleans. Let’s see if the Pelicans can reward the public or Utah continues its run.
For years, the Jazz relied on their defense and hoped just to do enough to win offensively. This season, though, Utah revised its offense to lean on its strength: the 3-point shot.
Changing the offensive philosophy has guided Utah to the No. 3 Offensive Rating in the NBA, entering play on Sunday night, at 117.0, according to NBA Advanced Stats, trailing just the Milwaukee Bucks and Brooklyn Nets. Pairing an elite offensive with Utah’s already dominant defense has created the force that we currently see crushing the rest of the NBA.
The Jazz have only been able to dominate using perimeter shooting because of their volume of shooters. Seven of the nine Utah players (big men Rudy Gobert and Derrick Favors are the only two not included) in its regular rotation shoot 37% or better from deep.
With the court open thanks to the shooters, guards Donovan Mitchell, Jordan Clarkson and Mike Conley all have room in the world to attack. Clarkson has taken his game to another level, helping give the Jazz an extra punch off the bench. Clarkson’s 18.1 points is second on the team and his 18.8 Player Efficiency Rating is a career high. Maintaining that level of scoring off the bench will be crucial in competitive games to keep the pressure on opposing defenses.
New Orleans Pelicans
The main reason for the Pelicans’ struggles is their subpar defense. New Orleans entered play on Sunday night ranked sixth in Offensive Rating, according to Basketball Reference, but a disastrous 29th in Defensive Rating. In their last 10 games, New Orleans is averaging 122.7 points per game on 50.3% shooting. The reason it’s losing is giving up 124.5 points per game on 52% shooting.
Turning to Zion Williamson more regularly has been the change that elevated the Pelicans’ offense. In their last 10 games, Williamson has averaged 29.8 points per game on 65.2% shooting. Against Utah, Gobert will provide a stern test to his physical interior attack.
The reason for the defensive struggles: The Pelicans can’t guard the 3-point line.
New Orleans allows the third-highest 3-point percentage in the league at 39.4%. The Pelicans can’t even stop teams from taking shots from beyond the arc. This season, 45.5% of opposing field goal attempts against New Orleans have been 3-balls.
The Jazz have won by an average of 9.7 points per game. Utilizing their defensive-first mindset and 3-point shooting, Utah’s formula remains simple but its talent and chemistry make it hard to overcome.
Against the Pelicans’ struggling perimeter defense, Utah’s 3-point heavy attack should flourish.
Defensively, Utah will be in for a challenge against New Orleans young, ascending offense. Stopping Williamson will go a long way in slowing the Pelicans down. Even if the former No. 1 overall pick gets going, Utah will be counting most of its buckets by three while New Orleans goes mostly by two.
For the Pelicans, their terrible defense will struggle to stop Utah. To cover, New Orleans will likely need a shootout. The Jazz will have the 3-point line covered, as they allow just 35.2% shooting from deep.
Back the Jazz to improve their already impressive record against the spread.
Pick: Jazz -6.5 (up to -7.5)