The Utah Jazz have the last play-in spot in the Western Conference and are not giving it up easily tonight against a depleted Portland Trail Blazers team.
Will Hardy’s Utah Utes keep fighting back every time they look like they will miss the playoffs, even if it means overcoming setbacks like the recent loss of several key players to injury. In spite of that, they have won their last two games, the most recent being an impressive 128-120 victory over the Sacramento Kings on Monday night.
Meanwhile, the Blazers are throwing in the towel on the season due to a growing injury list and rumors that they will bench star guard Damian Lillard for the campaign’s final weeks. The 117-102 loss the visitors suffered at the hands of the Los Angeles Clippers was their sixth straight defeat.
Everything you need to know about tonight’s game between the Trail Blazers and the Jazz can be found in our free NBA picks and predictions.
Trail Blazers vs. Jazz picks and predictions
After signing a four-year, $70 million contract to remain with the Portland Trail Blazers last summer, Jusuf Nurkic has proven to be a difficult salary for the team to move as they try to improve the roster around Damian Lillard.
Nurkic can still make significant contributions on good nights, and tonight’s matchup against the tall Utah frontcourt should be ideal for him.
Taking into account Portland’s injury list makes this prop more intriguing. The absence of Anfernee Simons and Jerami Grant has left Damian Lillard without a reliable secondary option in the Trail Blazers’ offense. Nurkic is set up for a scoring boost almost automatically.
Portland’s big Bosnian paid off against the Clippers on Monday, leading the team with 23 points (9-for-14 shooting) and 11 rebounds, so I expect Chauncey Billups to use him extensively tonight against Utah’s Walker Kessler-Kelly Olynyk frontcourt. The Trail Blazers are likely to play smaller lineups tonight, making Nurkic’s contribution on the boards all the more important.
These odds are fair for Nurkic to make the most of his expanded role, as the home team will likely send multiple defenders in Lillard’s direction.
Trail Blazers vs Jazz spread analysis
With Portland’s playoff hopes dwindling, Utah is a prohibitive favorite to advance to the play-in round. The home team showed potential in their win over Sacramento on Monday despite missing key players in the backcourt and wondering if Markkanen will play tonight.
Ochai Agbaji, one of the Utah guards getting more playing time with Jordan Clarkson and Collin Sexton out, scored 27 points on 8-for-14 shooting to lead the Jazz to an upset victory over the Kings. Kessler’s outstanding defense on Domantas Sabonis was also crucial, and having him on the court should reduce Lillard’s effectiveness in the paint.
The Trail Blazers’ recent slump has seen them drop six consecutive games and eight of their last 10. Portland’s road record of 14-22 doesn’t inspire much confidence tonight, and the Blazers still need to cover the spread in three of their last four games.
Without those other key players surrounding Lillard, the road team has a much lower chance of pulling off the upset. Maybe that won’t matter if Dame scores 60 points again like he did in late January against the Jazz, but it seems optimistic to hope for another performance like that.
Trail Blazers vs. Jazz Over/Under Analysis
The Jazz have been dominating the Over this month despite frequently rotating starters in and out of the starting lineup. They have won seven straight games overall and five straight games after an ATS victory. If Markkanen is healthy enough to play tonight, the Bulls should be able to take advantage of Portland’s porous defense and push the Over once more.
With 117.4 points per game, Utah is in the top 10 of the NBA and continues to get surprising contributions from all over the roster. Udoka Azubuike, playing as a reserve center, scored 18 points and dished out 10 assists against the Kings, and Kris Dunn added 18 points and 10 assists of his own.
During their current losing streak, the Trail Blazers have scored 110 points or less five times in seven games. While the late January matchup between these squads produced 258 combined points, their first two meetings both hovered around the 230-point mark. If you’re considering placing bets, check out some of the top online NBA betting sites for the latest odds and lines.