Minnesota at Utah -7 O/U 208
Utah went into the All-Star break on a season high ten game winning streak. They’ve come out of the break with some real clunkers, blown off the floor in a 19-point home loss to the Blazers, unable to extend their margin against the hapless Mavericks and struggling throughout an 11-point home loss to the Rockets.
Big man Derrick Favors, following the latest loss: “I definitely think there’s some rust from the all-star break. But it’s easy to fix. We have to improve on communication, on both ends of the floor. We have to improve on little things. But all of our issues, they are easy to fix.”
I concur wholeheartedly. Utah’s defense ranks #2 in the NBA since the All Star Break, allowing just 96.5 PP/100. But their offense has struggled mightily, just 90.7 PP/100; dead last in the NBA during that span. A big problem has been their inability to handle the basketball, dead last in the NBA in turnover percentage since the Break.
First, I don’t expect this to be a long term problem for the Jazz. Head coach Quin Synder, following the loss to Houston: “Ultimately in some of these situations, guys just really have to concentrate while they’re on the floor. The kind of drills you do not to turn the ball over are very mundane. We’ll do them, but more than anything, it’s just a mindset that we have to be tougher.”
Second, the Jazz are facing the ideal elixir for a struggling offense – playing Minnesota on the second night of back-2-backs. The T-wolves have not developed defensively as anticipated in the Tom Thibodeau era; and it’s not likely to get better with Jimmy Butler sitting on the sidelines in street clothes. Coming off another ugly second half at Portland last night (allowing 64 points after allowing only 44 in the first half), it’s hard for this bettor to picture Minnesota stepping up defensively tonight.
Lastly, from a spot perspective, this one really stands out for the Jazz. They know they haven’t played well since the break, and they’ve been off since Monday at home, going through a heavy practice routine. Expect that extra prep time to pay dividends for Jazz supporters tonight! Take the Jazz.