YTD Record: 1-3
Tonight the Utah Jazz will travel to Boston to take on the Celtics in a matchup of playoff teams from a year ago. Despite promising offseasons, both teams have looked fairly mediocre coming out of the gate.
The Jazz enter this game with a 4-4 record. A win against the dysfunctional Lakers is all they have to hang their hat on at this point and they needed three overtimes to beat the lowly Raptors on Monday. Utah’s roster is incredibly front-loaded. Al Jefferson and Paul Millsap are two of the better big men in the NBA, and both Derrick Favors and Enes Kanter show a lot of promise for the future.
The problem for Utah is getting production out of their guards. Mo Williams has helped ease that issue so far, but it’s hard to depend on Mo Williams for consistent production. The Jazz will need to hope for the continued development of Gordon Hayward and hope that former lottery pick Alec Burks can give them something.
The Celtics are 4-3 so far, but it’s hard to take anything meaningful from that record. Boston always starts slowly and does everything short of openly admitting that the regular season doesn’t matter to them. They know that they won’t be able to keep up with Miami in the regular season, so they are essentially playing for a No. 2 seed.
To get that No. 2 seed, they’ll have to take care of business at home. Kevin Garnett will have to contain Utah’s big men, but most importantly Rajon Rondo has to have a big game here. That’s Boston’s advantage against the Jazz. Rondo is having a career year so far, averaging 15 points on 53% shooting with an astounding 13 assists. That’s MVP-level production, and if Rondo delivers it against Utah the Jazz are going to be in a lot of trouble.
Betting Preview: Celtics (-5.5) vs. Jazz
I hate to emphasize this in every pick, but it’s one of the most important tenants of sports betting. Never bet against a home team unless you have a really, really, really good reason. In this case, you just don’t.
Utah is 0-3 on the road this season. This isn’t new, they are traditionally a much better home team than road team. Going into Boston and beating any Celtics team, much less a contending Celtics team, is one of the toughest things to do in basketball. I could be convinced if Utah had a point guard to keep control of the ship when things get tough, but I just don’t have that faith in Mo Williams. This feels like an easy Boston victory to me.
The Pick: Celtics (-5.5) (5Dimes.eu)