Surely all eyes will be on the Lakers vs. Celtics on Monday night, but with no overnight line to examine, we’ll actually put our eyes on a different game in this How to Bet NBA preview. Our focus will be on Game 523/524 with the Indiana Pacers in the altitude double against the Utah Jazz.
This game has a spot reserved in our NBA situational betting spots article and we’ll break it down in some deeper detail for you here with some picks and predictions for the action.
Victor Oladipo is nearing a return, but for now he is stuck practicing and appearing on The Masked Singer. The hope is that ‘Dipo can return by the end of the month. Naz Mitrou-Long remains out for the Pacers, but he should return later this week.
All is mostly quiet in Salt Lake City, where Nigel Williams-Goss is the only player on the injured list and he is day-to-day with an ankle injury.
With a back-to-back in altitude, the Pacers are getting seven points against the Jazz. Suffice it to say that the spot is very clearly factored into the number, as the Pacers closed one-point favorites for the 115-107 win over the Nuggets on Sunday evening. Indiana used a 15-point fourth quarter to erase a seven-point deficit.
The total here is listed at 217, again a bump from the previous night when the total closed 213.5 and went over.
Well, the spot is pretty obvious. Indiana is making its only appearances in Denver and Salt Lake City and they come back-to-back to start off the road trip. Utah, who is 16-3 at home this season, had Sunday off after pummeling the Kings by 22 on Saturday.
What’s At Stake?
The Jazz got off to a slow start this season at 13-11, but they have gone 16-2 over their last 18 games and they are making a move in the Western Conference standings. With Denver’s loss, the Nuggets and Jazz are tied for third at 29-13. There really is no prize in the Western Conference for finishing third or fourth because the road to the NBA Finals goes through one of the Los Angeles teams, but the #2 seed is a nice goal to have for all involved.
The Pacers have to be ecstatic with where they stand. The Celtics have two games in hand and are -1 in the win column and +1 in the loss column in the race for fourth place, but Indiana will get a rested and ready Oladipo back for the stretch run. In that respect, every game matters more as he nears a return.
This will be a different test for the Pacers and one that could pose some problems. The Nuggets, much like the Pacers, shoot a lot of two-pointers. In fact, Indiana ranks 29th in 3P rate and Denver ranks 26th. Utah ranks 12th, as 39% of their field goal attempts come from behind the arc. That will force the Nuggets to spread out and cover the perimeter with some tired legs in a back-to-back. Utah takes a good number of threes and also makes a lot of them with the best 3P% in the NBA at 38.8%, a full percent better than any other team.
The teams rate virtually the same in DRtg, with the Jazz allowing 107.4 points per 100 possessions and the Pacers allowing 107.3. Utah has the higher offensive ceiling by virtue of the three-point percentage. Indiana is a middle of the pack type of offense, whereas Utah is in the top 10 in a lot of offensive categories. That’s what a 16-2 run will do for you.
There is one key difference between the two teams, however. Indiana really values its possessions with an 11.7% TOV% on offense. The Jazz are at 13.6%. Utah is also among the league’s worst in forcing turnovers, but Indiana doesn’t shine in that department either, so the two things sort of cancel out here.
Utah’s interior defense looks like a problem for a Pacers team that doesn’t like to bomb away from deep. The Pacers are ninth in percentage of field goal attempts from three feet or less. The Jazz are fifth in percentage of field goal attempts allowed from three feet or less.
With the back-to-back and what looks like a bad schematic matchup, the Jazz get the nod in this one at the -7. This line does look a touch inflated, so you may want to wait it out for a bit and see if you can get a slightly better price. Early indications were that money was coming in a little bit on the Pacers.
Also, I’d look for some player prop opportunities. This looks like a tough game for the Pacers to defend Bojan Bogdanovic. A stretch big like Bogdanovic is likely to find open space against a weary Pacers defense. Look for his points over and also look for Malcolm Brogdon over in points on the Pacers side with a little extra reliance on three-point attempts.