The National Basketball Association’s regular season is quickly coming to a close, but there is still some time to improve or maintain playoff positioning.
Portland (45-33 straight up, 40-35-3 against the spread) currently resides in sixth place in the Western Conference standings. It seems highly unlikely that the Trail Blazers will catch Denver, but they must really worry about New Orleans and Memphis overtaking them in the standings.
Utah (37-41 SU, 32-44-2 ATS) is playing out the string to a disappointing season, but can still play a spoiler roll down the stretch. TNT will provide coverage of Thursday’s tilt beginning at 7:30 p.m. (PT) from EnergySolutions Arena in Salt Lake City. The game follows the Boston, Chicago matchup on the same network.
Portland was riding a two-game SU and ATS winning streak before Tuesday’s inexplicable home loss to Golden State as 10-point ‘chalk,’ 108-87. The combined 195 points failed to topple the 203-point closing total. The Trail Blazers did secure a playoff berth despite the setback when Houston lost at Sacramento.
Portland was outscored in the second half, 61-40, and finished the contest trailing the Warriors in rebounding, 46-40, while delivering more assists, 19-16. The Trail Blazers shot 41 percent (34-of-83) from the field, and a dismal 14 percent (3-of-21) from behind the arc.
Power forward LaMarcus Aldridge posted 17 points and 12 rebounds in the loss, while guard Wesley Matthews provided 17. Small forward Nicolas Batum scored 15 points in the defeat, while point guard Andre Miller had 12.
Utah had dropped eight games in a row SU and four consecutive contests ATS before surprising the Los Angeles Lakers Tuesday as a 13 ½-point road underdog, 86-85. The combined 171 points failed to eclipse the 193-point closing total, helping the ‘under’ improve to 7-1 the previous eight outings.
The Jazz finished the contest with advantages in rebounding, 52-49, assists, 20-19, and fast break points, 22-16. Utah shot 40 percent (34-of-85) from the field, and 39 percent (5-of-13) from 3-point land.
Rookie forward Gordon Hayward paced the offense with 22 points, six rebounds and five assists, while power forward Paul Millsap had 22 and seven. Forward Derrick Favors had 14 and 11 in the victory, while center Al Jefferson provided 11 and 11.
Portland is 2-1 SU and ATS this season against Utah, winning Dec. 27 as a 7 ½-point road underdog, 96-91, and Dec. 30 as a one-point home ‘chalk,’ 100-89. The Jazz prevailed Nov. 20 as a 3 ½-point road ‘dog, 103-94. The favorite is 10-3 ATS the last 13 games in this series, while the ‘over’ is 7-2 the previous nine encounters.
Portland center Marcus Camby (neck injury) is ‘questionable’ versus the Jazz. Utah guard Devin Harris (hamstring) and forward C.J. Miles (ankle) are ‘probable’ against the Trail Blazers, while centers Francisco Elson (knee) and Kyrylo Fesenko (thumb) are ‘questionable.’ Guard Raja Bell (foot) and forward Andrei Kirilenko (knee) are ‘doubtful’ for this matchup.
Portland concludes its regular season with a two-game homestand against the Los Angeles Lakers and Memphis followed by a road trip to Golden State. Utah has a two-game road trip against San Antonio and New Orleans before concluding its season with a home game against Denver.
The Jazz have struggled to an 8-20 ATS ledger their last 28 home games. Utah has seen the ‘over’ go 36-15 its previous 51 outings against Northwest Division opponents.