Donovan Mitchell looks to keep the Jazz rolling against the Lakers (Photo by Brian Rothmuller/Icon Sportswire)
- The Utah Jazz and Los Angeles Lakers meet in a potential WCF preview on Wednesday night
- This is the team’s first meeting in 2020-21
- Get the latest odds, betting preview and a pick below
The Western Conference-leading Utah Jazz take on the reigning champion Los Angeles Lakers on Wednesday. Utah is favored by eight over the Lakers, who have lost four of their last five games. Los Angeles is without Anthony Davis (Achilles) and Dennis Schroder (health and safety protocols).
Missing their second and third-highest scorers, a lot of responsibility falls to LeBron James. Utah have no such worries, with Mike Conley having recently returned from a short injury absence.
Utah Jazz vs Los Angeles Lakers Odds
|Los Angeles Lakers||+8 (-106)||+290||Over 219 (-115)|
|Utah Jazz||-8 (-114)||-360||Under 219 (-105)|
Odds taken on Feb 24 from FanDuel.
High-Powered Jazz Offense
Fourth in offensive rating, this is a different Jazz team from previous seasons. This Utah roster is stacked with shooting and ball handlers. On the foundation of Rudy Gobert’s defense, they can blow teams away in a quarter of red-hot perimeter shooting and sharp ball movement.
Utah leads the NBA in three-point percentage and three-point attempts per game. Six of their core rotation players are shooting 38% or better from beyond the arc. A category previously dominated by Daryl Morey’s Houston Rockets has been taken over by the Jazz, and they will look to stretch the Lakers’ league-leading defense all over the court on Wednesday.
On February 5th, the Utah Jazz set their franchise record for three-pointers made (25) in a single game, against the Charlotte Hornets.
On February 22nd, the Utah Jazz set their franchise record for three-pointers made (28) in a single game, against the Charlotte Hornets.
— Rob Perez (@WorldWideWob) February 23, 2021
Frank Vogel’s team have done a good job defending the perimeter this season. Their ability to rotate and close out shooters will be seriously tested by Utah. Peculiarly for such an efficient offense, the Jazz rank in the bottom ten in shots at the rim, an area where the Lakers have been vulnerable. Donovan Mitchell’s ability to get to the basket could be crucial if the Lakers limit the space for perimeter shooters.
Kyle Kuzma and Montrezl Harrell have been forced to step up in the absence of Schroder and Davis. Kuzma has got his points, but not always efficiently. Harrell has been up and down. The burden on LeBron James as creator and scorer is enormous, and the result has been a drop off from the Lakers offensively.
LeBron and Kuzma miss at the buzzer. Wizards win. pic.twitter.com/ewMPoPT0jP
— Legion Hoops (@LegionHoops) February 23, 2021
They are 20th in offensive rating in February. Their assist to turnover ratio is third-worst in the league. It’s hard to have an effective offense when you’re shooting under 30% as a team from three, as the Lakers have been doing in February. That’s a particularly significant roadblock when Rudy Gobert is at the basket.
James can’t do everything. Without Schroder’s playmaking ability and Davis’ scoring, James needs a massive night for the Lakers to be in the game. That reliance becomes too great when his teammates are not knocking down open three-point attempts.
There’s a guarantee the Jazz will shoot the long ball well. The Lakers need to break out of their recent three-point shooting slump, and hope they get a good night from Kuzma, rather than another sub-40% from the field performance.
Underdog Lakers Continue to Struggle
It’s not often a LeBron James-led team is an underdog, let alone by this many points. There’s good reason here, though.
The Utah Jazz have now won 20 of their last 21 games and 18 of those Ws are by double-digits.
— Rob Perez (@WorldWideWob) February 18, 2021
The Jazz are elite on both ends. They are comprehensive league leaders in net rating, and they have lost just twice since January 6th. An impressive straight up record is reflected in their ATS numbers, too. Having been favorite on 28 occasions, Utah is 21-7 ATS in such games, and they are 13-5 ATS in games with equal rest. The Lakers have a losing record in such matchups.
Utah has made a habit of not just winning, but winning big. The Lakers do not have the fire power to keep up with them if the threes are falling in the first half. The Jazz to cover is the best bet for this one – the reigning champions need a monster night from LeBron to stay in the game.
Pick: Utah Jazz -8 (-114)
Sam Cox is a freelance writer and sports junkie, who has spent the past several years immersed in the online gaming industry. He has worked with 888sport, Oddschecker, and Colossus Bets to name a few. Based in the UK, Sam also runs Franchise Sports with his brother.