The Utah Jazz (12-4) are the hottest team in the NBA, riding high on an eight-game winning streak. Bettors love the Jazz because they’re the best team in the NBA with an 11-5 against the spread record, including an 8-0 ATS clip during their hot streak.
The Jazz started the season 4-4 before winning eight in a row and improving to 12-4. Only two other NBA teams have more wins than the Jazz: the LA Lakers (14), and the LA Clippers (13).
|WESTERN CONFERENCE STANDINGS|
- LA Lakers 14-4
- LA Clippers 13-4
- Utah Jazz 12-4
- Portland Trail Blazers 9-7
- Denver Nuggets 10-7
- Memphis Grizzlies 7-6
- Phoenix Suns 8-7
- San Antonio Spurs 9-8
The Jazz are favorites at -125 odds to win the Northwest division. The Denver Nuggets are +175 odds to win the Northwest for the third consecutive season. After a slow start and the Jazz’s winning streak, the Nuggets are the ones in hot pursuit of the Jazz.
Triple Jazz Hands: Mitchell, Conley, Clarkson
The Jazz aren’t just winning big; they’re giving their opponents a good ass-kicking. The Jazz won five games by at least 15 points during their streak.
Mitchell, Conley, and Clarkson sounds like a law firm on Wilshire Blvd. in Beverly Hills. The power trio makes up Utah’s deadly three-guard unit. Donovan “Spida” Mitchel leads the Jazz with 24.3 ppg and five assists per game, while his backcourt mate Mike Conley averages 16.4 ppg and almost six assists per game. Jordan Clarkson comes off the bench averaging 17.4 ppg and 4.4 rebounds in less than 25 minutes per game as the Jazz’s second-leading scorer. Clarkson is on the shortlist for Sixth Man of the Year Award candidates.
“Utah is on fire,” said Golden State Warriors head coach Steve Kerr, who lost to the Jazz on Sunday. “They execute their offense beautifully.”
The Jazz also have five players shooting better than 40% from 3-point range. Power forward Royce O’Neal leads Utah with a 46.2% clip from beyond the arc. The “law firm” of Mitchell, Clarkson, and Conley are all shooting over 40%.
Mitchell, in his fourth season out of Louisville, recently became the fastest player in NBA history to make 600 3-point shots.
Sharpshooter Bojan Bogdanovic is having an off year. He’s scoring way less (13.5 ppg vs 20.2 ppg) than last season. He shot 41% from downtown the last three seasons, but he’s slightly off this season at 37.4%. If Bogdanovic starts shooting better, the Jazz will have six players firing away at better than 40%.
Quin Snyder’s Clampdown D
Defense has been the key to the Jazz’s impressive winning streak. The Jazz are ranked #3 in defensive scoring, allowing 106.1 points per game. During this win streak, the Jazz held opponents to fewer than 102 points in four out of eight games. They held two opponents under 87 points. In this current run-and-gun NBA, it’s impressive anytime you hold a team under the century mark, let alone in the 80s. That’s like an early 1990s defensive effort.
“We want to defend collectively,” said head coach Quin Snyder. “Our guys are seeing it collectively. It’s not one guy’s job. Every guy has to do the job.”
The Jazz clean the glass with stellar proficiency, averaging 49.4 rebounds per game, which makes them the top rebounding team in the league. Rudy Gobert, ranked #3 in the NBA, leads the team with 13.5 rebounds per game.
On Deck: New York, Dallas 2x, at Denver
The last time the Jazz lost, it happened during the start of a seven-game road trip when they dropped games in back-to-back nights in the Big Apple. They were blown out by the Brooklyn Nets by 34 points, and then, the New York Knicks gave them a wake-up call with a 12-point loss at Madison Square Garden.
The Jazz host the road-weary Knicks (8-10), who are finishing off their West Coast road trip in Salt Lake City. It’s also payback time because the Knicks were the last team to beat them.
Luka Doncic and the Dallas Mavericks (8-9) head to Utah for a two-game tussle (but not back-to-back) later this week.
On Sunday, the Jazz will make a short trip to Denver to take on MVP-candidate Nikola Jokic and the Nuggets (10-7). The Jazz blew a 3-1 lead against Denver in the first round of the 2020 NBA playoffs. So far, they’re 1-0 this season against the Nugs. Denver gave Utah their toughest challenge during the winning streak. Two Sundays ago, the Jazz edged out Denver 109-105.
“That [was] kind of [a] crazy game,” said Jokic, who just missed a triple-double. “Intense. It was good basketball.”
“It’s not always going to be sunshine and rainbows where we execute the game plan 110%,” said Spida Mitchell. “We went out there and, for us, just asserting our will. Finding ways to win the game by any means necessary.”