Denver Nuggets (53-29 SU, 34-42-6 ATS) vs. Utah Jazz (53-29 SU, 49-30-3 ATS), 10:30 p.m. EST, Friday, April 23, 2010, EnergySolutions Arena, Salt Lake City, Utah. TV: ESPN2
by Ryno of Predictem.com
Point Spread: Nuggets +2/Jazz -2
Despite a depleted roster due to injuries, the Utah Jazz needed a victory in Game 2 to gain momentum and home court advantage in the best-of-7 game series. After losing Game 1 in Denver, the Jazz shot the lights out in Game 2 to take a 12-point lead at the half. The Nuggets came back in the second half and even took the lead at one point, but the Jazz withstood the furious Nuggets comeback and pulled out a 114-111 victory to tie the series up at 1-1. Now, the series shifts to Utah for the all-important Game 3.
In the Game 2 victory, the Jazz were shooting over 60 percent from the field for much of the game. In the end, they finished at 53 percent overall and 6-for-13 from 3-point range. The two teams combined for 91 free throw attempts, as the Jazz were 36-for-47 and the Nuggets were 37-for-44. The Nuggets shot 47 percent from the field and 4-for-18 on 3-pointers. The two teams were tied in rebounding and nearly tied in turnovers.
It’s a huge accomplishment for the Jazz to be even in rebounding in that game considering they were playing without both Mehmet Okur and Andrei Kirilenko. Kyrylo Fesenko started at center for the Jazz and the 7-footer only grabbed a total of two rebounds. Paul Millsap had five rebounds to go along with his 18 points off the bench and only one Jazz player had more rebounds than him. That player was Carlos Boozer, who finished with 20 points and 15 rebounds. A large reason why they were tied in rebounds was that there weren’t many rebounds to get with all of the shots the Jazz were making and all of thee free throws both teams were attempting.
Deron Williams had an incredible game for the Jazz, as he finished with 33 points on 7-of-14 shooting from the field and 14 assists. C.J. Miles played well with 17 points and six assists, and Kyle Korver scored 13 points, including some huge shots down the stretch to help win the game. Wes Matthews, along with Miles, did an excellent job defending Carmelo Anthony. Carmelo still finished with 32 points, but he only shot 9-of-25 from the field and it was still less than he scored in Game 1.
Nene had 18 points and six rebounds, Chauncey Billups had 17 points and 11 assists, and Kenyon Martin scored 15 points.
The Jazz were so short-handed that they had guys like Ronnie Price, Kosta Koufos and Othyus Jeffers on the floor in key moments of a playoff game. The way they executed on offense it didn’t matter who was on the court in Game 2, but their lack of depth, especially down low, could catch up to them at some point in this series.
Now that the series is in Salt Lake City and the Jazz have the momentum, they need to slow the game down and beat the Nuggets in a half-court game. Both teams like to run, but the Nuggets excel in a full-court game. If the Jazz force the Nuggets to execute in the half-court, the Jazz can defend them well and control the tempo of the game. If the Jazz execute like they did in Game 2 on offense, they can’t be stopped. The Nuggets aren’t a great defensive team. They just want to outscore their opponents and turn it into a running game, but the Jazz have to slow it down in order to win this game and really take control of the series.
The Nuggets are 6-1 ATS in their last seven games as an underdog, but 1-6-1 ATS in their last eight road games. The Jazz are 8-3 ATS in their last 11 games as a home favorite. The total has gone over in each of the last four meetings between these teams, but the under is 4-1 in the last five meetings between these teams in Utah. The Nuggets are 7-1-2 ATS in their last 10 meetings with the Jazz and 3-0-1 ATS in their last four meetings in Utah. The favorite is 24-11-3 ATS in the last 38 meetings between these teams.
Ryno’s Pick: Tonight should be a REAL tough game and one that should provide some great excitement to watch. I believe the best bet here is neither the side or the total, but a small play on the Jazz to win the series which can be found at +140 at Bodog Sportsbook. Good luck!