It’s not quite the Stockton-Malone days, but the Utah Jazz are riding the play of Donovan Mitchell and Rudy Gobert to the NBA’s best record. Winners of four straight and 15 of their last 16 games, the Jazz look to stay scalding hot when they host the Boston Celtics on Tuesday night in the second game of TNT’s doubleheader. The Celtics are limping to the end of a five-game road trip and will try and end it with a winning record after dropping a game to the Phoenix Suns on Sunday. Bookmaker.eu offers a generous CASH welcome bonus (max bonus $1600)
Boston’s record dropped to 2-2 SU and ATS on the current five-game road trip after falling to the Suns 100-91 on Sunday. They will be a bigger dog on Tuesday getting points in a fourth straight game. The Celtics were catching 3-points in Phoenix and failed to cover falling to 1-5 SU and 2-4 ATS in their last six games as an underdog. It’s been a rough go for the Cs lately having lost four of their last six and seven of 11 since a season-high five-game winning streak in early January. Overall they are 12-10 SU and ATS. A loss to the Knickerbockers in early January seemed to be a wakeup call for the Jazz, who responded by winning 11 in a row. That run was interrupted by Denver, but Utah just started another one taking their last four games, including three straight on the road were they went 3-0 ATS. Over their last 16 games the Jazz are 14-2 ATS and they own the largest point differential in the Western Conference at plus-8.6 points, second only to Milwaukee in the entire NBA.
The Celtics may be stronger at the end of the season as they continue to work through injury issues and just flat out bad play. At least that’s the hope and it does give the club something to lean on through these desperate times. Playing without Kemba Walker at the start of the season as he recovered from offseason surgery, and missing both Jaysom Tatum and Jaylen Brown for periods of time, the Celtics have yet to find a groove.
There were spots of brilliance, like the 141-103 trouncing of Cleveland a few weeks ago when Brown busted out for 33 points and Walker had 21. But too many times an effort like that was followed by a crappy game where shots wouldn’t fall and the usually reliable defense didn’t show up. A win over the Clippers on Friday should have been a confidence-builder, but instead the Celtics came out flat in a loss to Phoenix.
Boston is hoping to have Brown available on Tuesday after he missed the previous two games with a sore knee. Marcus Smart is also on the shelf leaving the team shorthanded. And it hasn’t helped that Walker is still looking for his shooting stroke. Walker was just 4 of 20 from the field against the Suns and is shooting 35.7 percent from the floor this season. Tatum has picked up the slack, but he can’t do it alone.
You don’t win nearly 80 percent of your games and 15 of 16 contests by being lucky. There might be some luck involved, but Utah is a complete team that does everything well. You don’t normally associate the Jazz with being a prolific three-point shooting club, but that’s exactly what they are. They’ve made a league-high 407 triples and shoot from distance at a 40.3 percent clip, second best in the NBA.
The curve will flatten over the course of the season so don’t expect the Jazz to continue this torrid pace. After all, they did lose to the Knicks in early January before going on their monumental run. Consistency has been a big part of their game. The Jazz are the only club to rank among the top five in both offensive and defensive efficiency and their average scoring margin of plus-8.6 points is second only to the Bucks in the NBA.
Mitchell is the biggest threat in the lineup scoring 23.5 points per game while connecting on nearly 42 percent of his three-point shots. He also showed his versatility in a win over the Pacers moving to point guard for the injured Mike Conley and nearly collecting a triple-double. He finished with 27 points, 11 assists and nine rebounds.
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The Jazz are going to cool off at some point, but until they do it pays to ride the hot hand. They are 14-2 ATS in their last 16 games, 15 of which have been straight up victories. Never underestimate a wounded opponent, though. The Celtics are dealing with injuries and inconsistent play, but they are a quality team and will hang around. I do like the Jazz, though, even if Conley is out of the lineup.
NBA Score Prediction: Jazz 116, Celtics 108
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– Phil Simon, Gambling911.com