The Charlotte Hornets are in Salt Lake City on Monday night looking for an upset against the Utah Jazz. Tough matchup for the Hornets, but the Jazz could be ripe for another loss after stumbling against the Los Angeles Clippers. It was a hard-fought loss in Paul George’s return to action. The Clippers edged the Jazz out for a 116-112 victory.
The loss for the Jazz ended a nine-game winning streak and an insane 20-1 run in their previous 21 games. There is no shame in failing to go 21-1 and going on a ten-game winning streak. It wasn’t a bad effort by the Jazz, and I think they’ve shown that they belong in the Western Conference discussion.
With the loss against the Clippers, the Jazz are still an impressive 24-6 on the season. Donovan Mitchell did his best to will the Jazz to another win, but his 35-point effort just came up a bit short. Mitchell is one of the most underrated, if not the most underrated in the NBA. You can certainly include Dame Lillard in that talk as well.
Despite losing, the Jazz still have a comfortable lead in the West. They have a 2.5-game advantage on the Los Angeles Lakers for the lead. The Lakers have looked beatable without a healthy Anthony Davis, and the Jazz took the Clippers to the wire, so people have to start respecting Utah. I don’t know if they’re going to the NBA Finals, but they are a well built team that has plenty of talent.
The Hornets head into Salt Lake City with a record of 14-15. They are a young team with potential in the future. It’d be surprising if the Hornets are not somewhat of a contender in a couple of years. Someone in the front office messed up if the Hornets aren’t at least threatening to make a deep postseason run then. There is still a lot to learn for the youngsters like LaMelo Ball, Miles Bridges, and PJ Washington.
The addition of Gordon Hayward and Terry Rozier made a lot of sense for the Hornets. They needed a couple of talented veterans to help lead the young guns, and landed on Hayward and Rozier. Hayward will be making his return to Utah on Monday night, so that’s a storyline to follow in this one. Head below for our free Hornets vs. Jazz pick on February 22, 2021.
Charlotte Hornets vs. Utah Jazz NBA Betting Odds:
Hornets vs. Jazz Prediction:
For the Charlotte Hornets, they can hang their hat in this game knowing that this is a sandwich spot for the Utah Jazz. Following this contest, the Jazz have a big showdown against the LA Lakers on Wednesday. Sandwiched between the two LA teams is the Hornets, who could provide the Jazz with a letdown spot. If the Jazz fall into the trap, then they’re going to be in for a fight.
However, ignore that the Lakers are next on their schedule, and motivated to respond following a loss against the Clippers, then the Jazz should be able to coast. The Jazz have a defense that should be able to frustrate the young Hornets. They’re aggressive and don’t give up much room to operate. In the top-3 defensively, the Jazz have conceded an average of 106.3 points per game. Say what you want about Rudy Gobert’s contract, but he plays some of the best defense you are going to see in the NBA. The Jazz aren’t 24-6 without Gobert’s lockdown defense.
The Hornets have been inconsistent offensively, and will be without the services of point guard Devonte’ Graham on Monday night. He is listed as doubtful to play, so we’ll go ahead and assume that Graham will ultimately be out of this one. Graham likely would have seen around 30 minutes in this one. He’s an underrated piece to this Hornets team, and it’s unfortunate this his knee injury continues to bother him. Graham has scored an average of 13.7 points and 5.7 assists per game.
The Jazz can score as well, and I think that’s what people don’t pick up with this team and underestimate. Donovan Mitchell is scoring an average of 24.6 points and 5.1 assists per game. That’s a guy who needs to begin getting his respect. He’s helped lead the Jazz to 115.5 points per game for fifth in the league. They are one of the best teams from three, shooting 39.2% for fourth. Charlotte has struggled mightily against the Jazz in previous matchups. They’re 2-10-1 ATS overall and 1-5 ATS in their last six outings in Utah.
I noted that the Jazz might be stuck in a sandwich game here, and if they beat the Clippers, I’d be more inclined to fade the Jazz in this spot. However, you could make the argument on the opposite side that the Hornets might experience a letdown. They are coming off a close 102-100 win over Golden State Warriors on Saturday. This is a lot of points, but I can still see the Jazz covering 12. A 117-102 win or thereabout looks about right.