Dallas Mavericks @ Utah Jazz -3 (Total: 193)
The Jazz lost a heartbreaker that they absolutely HAD to have Saturday night, dropping to the Memphis Grizzlies 103-98. The loss moves the Jazz to a game and a half outside of the playoff picture, and two games back of Houston in the loss column for the eighth and final spot in the West. That makes tonight’s game an absolute must-win for the Jazz if they’d like to avoid the lottery and extend their season.
The game is important for Dallas as well. They are reasonable comfortable to get into the playoffs, two and half games clear of Phoenix inside the playoffs, and tenuously holding onto sixth place in the West. There is a big difference between the #6 spot and the #8 spot however. At #6, they would earn a first round matchup with the Lakers and then likely the aging Spurs in the second round (assuming both advance, of course). The #8 seed drops you off in Oklahoma City to face the Thunder. Granted, the Mavs beat them last season in six games in the Western Conference Finals, but both these teams are far different in 2012 (I don’t think anyone disputes this reality.)
Suffice it to say, the Mavs would prefer to avoid sliding back a few games and the Jazz are living on borrowed time; that makes tonight’s game potentially extremely intense and a good watch. But which team has the edge from a wagering perspective? Let’s dig inside the numbers…
The first thing that jumps out are the widely disparate records at home versus on the road for each team. The Jazz have been really tough at home, as in one of the best teams in the NBA in their home arena, going an excellent 21-8. Meanwhile, the Mavs haven’t exactly looked like defending champs outside of Dallas, posting a mediocre 13-17 mark.
The Jazz have played well against Dallas at home against the spread as well. They are 11-4-1 in their last 16 meetings in Utah. More recently, they have struggled a bit, going just 1-6 ATS against Dallas in their last seven matchups overall. This matchup has favored the home team historically, 24-9-1 ATS for the team in white jerseys.
This has the potential to be a great game tonight, but I keep coming back to the wildly disparate home/away records of these two teams. Utah is a different team at home; a borderline championship caliber team. I think they play like it tonight, using their depth and balanced scoring to scratch out a desperately needed win – and making things really, really interesting in the Western Conference for the season’s last ten days.
Free Pick: Utah Jazz -3