Golden State Warriors Over Utah Jazz and Tuesday’s NBA Playoff Picks

by Kevin Roberts
on May 2, 2017

Round two of the 2017 NBA Playoffs picks back up on Tuesday, as we head into game two of the series between the Wizards and Celtics and encounter our first meeting between the Warriors and Jazz.

We saw two others series get started last night, as we correctly predicted the Cavs rolling over the Raptors and an upset of the Rockets over the Spurs. All of these series are now officially set to be underway once the Jazz and Dubs go head to head tonight, putting us one step closer to this year’s NBA Finals series.

It’s quite likely we’re headed for a three-peat between the Cavaliers and Warriors, but these second round matchups are certainly interesting. The most appealing might be Washington vs. Boston and many NBA bettors will be wondering if the Wiz will be able to sneak a road win early in this series.

There is also some question in regards to the Warriors’ series, as some speculate the Jazz can’t hang with Golden State. That’s why we break down the matchups, so let’s dive into tonight’s second round NBA playoff games and see which way you should be betting:

Washington Wizards (+5.5)
Boston Celtics (-5.5)
Total: 218.5

The Wizards looked like they were about to steal game one early against the Celtics this past weekend, but Boston responded nicely and avoided another slow start like they had in round one versus the Bulls.

That kind of start would have likely been catastrophic against a good Wizards team, but the Celtics aren’t out of the woods just yet. The Wiz actually burned themselves considerably at the charity stripe, missing a whopping 12 freebies in a game where they ended up hitting over 50% from the field and lost by – you guessed it – 12 points.

Perhaps the Wiz needed a perfect game to upend the Celtics at TD Garden to get this thing going, but a disastrous third quarter (just 16 points) also didn’t help. That type of inconsistency simply will not do in this series, as it really seems like Boston has stepped up their game ever since falling in that 0-2 hole in their last series.

Boston has now won five straight playoff games and is starting to look like the team that won the #1 seed in the Eastern Conference. I’m not sure that means they can beat the Cavs if they advance to the conference finals, but it does mean they’re in a good spot in a matchup that seemed to benefit them from the very beginning.

That’s the reality here, as the Wiz can push the pace and put points on the board, but they can’t defend. We saw that full well in game one with the Wiz giving up 123 points, including a ridiculous 19 deep balls.

The craziest part might be Boston’s lack of defense in game one. Washington did as they pleased for roughly three quarters and it’s hard to imagine Avery Bradley, Jae Crowder and Marcus Smart not eventually battening down the hatches defensively. It didn’t happen in game one, however, as Washington’s pace and outside shooting kept the Celtics guessing with a crazy 38-point first quarter.

The difference was Boston’s resolve, as the Celtics just kept trucking along and things evened out and worked in their favor in the end. That, plus Boston’s superior defensive upside, is sure to have the Celtics move on from this series when it’s all said and done.

While that figures to be the case, this should be a good series and the Wizards do have the potential to tighten up defensively. Bradley Beal and Otto Porter are both capable of defending better and John Wall has a distinct size advantage over Isaiah Thomas.

One other key could be the status of big man Markieff Morris, who lasted just 11 minutes in game one due to an injury:

He should make it back for this game, and if he’s on the floor the Wizards might have enough ammo and determination to do some responding, themselves.

Washington probably can’t win the long game with how their defense has been in these playoffs, but they can blow up offensively and out-run the Celtics in any given game. They and Vegas already likes this game to be close, so we’ll turn right back around and shift to the Wiz for game two.

This game is obviously fast and high-scoring, so we can safely target the Over and I like the Wiz ATS or straight up in this spot.

Betting Value: Washington offers all of the value (+250 for the series and +175 for game two at Bovada) and should be able to even this series up. The best bet is obviously the Over, however, given how explosive both offenses can be.

Utah Jazz (+13)
Golden State Warriors (-13)
Total: 208

This series gets started at the Oracle Arena and has the Dubs as uber favorites at Bovada, carrying a huge spread for this game specifically, as well as a rich -3000 Moneyline to win the series. That does provide upside for Utah (+1400 to win the series), but our best bet is naturally going to be to gauge at which points in this series could the Jazz possibly sneak a win.

I’m not sure that will come right away in game one. Utah certainly has an edge down low with size and defensive ability, as Derrick Favors can be effective as a starter of off the bench and stud center Rudy Gobert could be a handful in the paint offensively and everyone knows he’s a legit defensive problem due to his rebounding and shot-blocking.

Golden State hasn’t allowed him to control what they do in the past, however, as the Warriors have won 7 of the last 8 meetings, including a 2-1 win of this year’s regular season series. Utah did manage to nab a 6-point win at the Oracle Arena this year, but the Warriors have been able to push the pace and hit on 99+ points in all three of this year’s meetings.

The key question we’ll want to answer is what did Utah do right in that road upset? For starters, they showed up offensively. George Hill torched Stephen Curry (20 points) just like most quality point guards do, Rudy Gobert put up a nasty double-double with 17 points and 18 rebounds and the Jazz got a nice spark off their bench with Joe Johnson and Shelvin Mack pouring in 35 points, combined.

Defense was unsurprisingly the name of the game for Utah, as Gobert owned the glass and blocked two shots, while Utah’s slow, grind-it-out pace put the onus on turnovers and kept Golden State from getting too hot. The Warriors still shot the ball well from the floor and long range, but they thrive on pushing the ball and confusing defenses with quick ball movement. Considering Utah specializes at limiting that, it isn’t overly shocking they got that big road win and also kept themselves in two of three meetings this year. Their lone win was also more impressive considering star swingman Gordon Hayward sat out with an injury.

This series isn’t rocket science for the Jazz. They need to continue to play stingy defense and their bench is going to need to answer the call. Utah has some fine offensive pieces in the starting lineup, but Hill could be guarded by Klay Thompson for a lot of this series and Hayward could see a lot of Kevin Durant and maybe even Draymond Green.

The funny thing is Utah executing their game doesn’t even guarantee they win or keep these games close. The Warriors lack serious punch down low, but they still sport the second most efficient defense in the NBA. Combine that with their fast pace, home court edge and explosive perimeter game, and they ultimately are going to be too much for the Jazz to keep tabs on.

I do think Utah can rise up and steal a game in this series, but they needed seven games to get past a Clippers team that didn’t have Blake Griffin in the last 2.5 games. Golden State can play even better defense and can easily blow Utah out of the water with their offense. This spread isn’t that crazy because of that, but I do think the Jazz will come to play early. That could make the Jazz playable for this spread, while Golden State’s pace and upside likely makes the Over a solid play.

Betting Value: The Jazz carry all of the value, but I don’t think they win in game one. Take the Dubs and the Over and don’t look back.

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