April 15, 2017
There is one pick today in the NBA which was released yesterday.
Take LA Clippers -5 spread (buy the half point) against Utah Jazz risking 3% of the bankroll.
These two franchises have been feuding in recent weeks as it became increasingly apparent that they will face each other in the first round of the playoffs! While the fact that they will finish 4th and 5th in the Western conference standings has not been in doubt for a long time, there was always the question of which of the two will actually clinch that fourth seed and the home-court advantage that comes with it! The answer, as we now know, is the Los Angels Clippers.
It wasn't until the final day of the regular season that the 4th seed was decided. Utah and LA battled each other and jockeyed positions throughout the final weeks but ultimately it was the Clippers that clinched it due to having the tie-breaker. We believe that'll prove significant and was a real blow to this young Jazz team's confidence. After all, both clubs finished with identical 51-31 records and yet one will host the first two games of this post-season series as well as the pivotal game 7, should it be necessary, which gives them a distinct advantage.
Don't believe home-court advantage is important in this particular series? Think again. Consider the fact that Doc Rivers' side was an impressive 29-12 at the Staples Center and you'll see that they rarely lost. Same can be said about the Utah Jazz, whom enjoy incredible support from their loyal fanbase and tend to perform much better at home than on the road. They were a very formidable squad at Vivint Smart Home Arena and yet owned a mediocre 22-19 record on their travels! Nearly every player on this Jazz squad except a few very experienced veterans, feed off the energy and support of the home crowd and play better in Utah than on the road.
Utah Jazz are a very solid team this year and well deserving of a playoff spot. They are, however, a very young team outside of a few veteran additions that came over in the off-season. If you take out Boris Diaw, Joe Johnson and George Hill, all of whom are in their first year with Quinn Snyder's club, none of their other players have ever participated in the playoffs before! The pressure to perform in the playoffs is much higher than in the regular season as is the intensity. It wouldn't surprise us if they were caught a bit off-guard by the occasion in the opening game of this series! We believe they'll adjust eventually and put up a good fight in the upcoming games but this first one should be their most challenging, against an experienced squad like LA that is hungry for playoff success!
It should also be noted that the Jazz have several players trying to work their way back from injuries. Derrick Favors missed a lengthy 12 games at two separate stages this season including late in the regular season! He made his comeback over the last couple of outings and played some minutes but he's not as sharp as he used to be and it'll take him some more games to regain his rhythm. Rodney Hood is another player that has been dealing with knee issues and admitted he likely won't be injury-free until after the playoffs. He's having to play through pain and that limits his effectiveness. Last but not least, their starting PG, George Hill missed 8 games at the tail-end of the regular season and is also not at 100%. He'll have a very tough matchup against Chris Paul at the point-guard position and may not be physically ready for it given recent injury woes. Back the Clippers in this first game as they set the tone by making their home-court advantage count! We expect them to pull away and cover this reasonably short spread.
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