Los Angeles Lakers (64-27), +3.5, o/u 211.5 vs. Utah Jazz (60-33), -3.5, o/u 211.5, EnergySolutions Arena, Salt Lake City, Utah, 10:30 p.m. Eastern, Friday
By Oracle of Predictem.com
If there were a time for the Utah Jazz to thank their lucky stars they’re playing at the Salt Palace, Friday would that time.
In a stunning trend during the playoffs, the Los Angeles Lakers held serve for Game 5 of the Western Conference semifinals against the Jazz with a 111-104 win. But that’s not the stunning part.
What is, is the fact that 19 of the 20 games played in the second round of the playoffs have been won by the home team. And with the Lakers leading the best-of-seven series 3-2, Utah better make sure to kiss half-court of their own home floor.
EnergySolutions Arena has been hands down the toughest place to play in the NBA this season, hence the 41-5 overall record for Utah at the Salt Palace during the entire NBA calendar to date.
Not surprising, the home team has been favored for the most part by online oddsmakers. That trend will continue for Game 6 with Utah opening up as 3.5-point favorites. That mark has slowly crept up to 4 at many online sportsbooks.
The over/under for Game 6 opened up at 211.5, which is somewhat surprising considering four out of the five games this series have posted bigger totals than that.
When looking deeper into the box score for Game 5, NBA MVP Kobe Bryant didn’t attempt a field goal in the fourth quarter and scored just three points, all from the foul line when the game was basically out of reach. No problem, though, as he got teammates like Lamar Odom involved down the stretch.
Odom finished with 22 points, including some monstrous dunks and a three-point play to keep the momentum on the Lakers’ side. He also added 11 rebounds on the night. All five Lakers starters finished in double figures, and when that happens, they’re tough to beat, as they were 17-1 during the regular season.
The Jazz showed a ton of grit and determination during Game 5. They were down 12 points at one point and never led, but were within just one point in the waning minutes. All five Jazz starters also scored in double digits led by Deron Williams and his 27 points.
The big question heading into the contest was how Bryant’s back would respond to an injury he suffered during the opening minutes of Game 4’s 123-115 overtime loss. Bryant didn’t even practice on Monday or Tuesday, receiving the mother load of treatments to get ready for Game 5.
Except for the fact that he only took 10 field goal attempts, it didn’t seem to affect his play much, finishing with 26 points, six rebounds and seven assists while playing 41 minutes.
Bryant said after the game that it didn’t get any worse, so he should be good to go for tonight’s showdown.
Utah’s 7-point loss in Game 5 was the first time the visiting team covered the spread in this series. It broke a huge trend, however the home team is still 10-3-1 ATS in the last 14 games between the squads.
The Lakers struggle at the Salt Palace covering the spread as do most teams. They’re just 3-7-1 ATS in Salt Lake City.
The Jazz have done wonders for bettors as home favorites of .5 to 4.5 points, going 14-3-1 ATS in their last 18 overall games at the Salt Palace.
The 211.5 point total may be an eye-opener for bettors, but looking deeper into the trends, the under makes sense. It’s 4-0 in the last four contests as road underdogs for the Lakers. It’s also 4-1 for the Jazz as home favorites of .5 to 4.5 points.
However, the over still dominates the head-to-head meetings, going 13-6 in the last 19 match ups.
The Lakers have a tall task in front of them trying to break the affinity of the home team always winning during Round 2 of the playoffs. To boot, they have to do it in the hardest place to play for visiting teams in the NBA. But that’s why they’re the No. 1 seed in the Western Conference.
Oracle’s Pick: The public is almost dead even on this line. Look for the trend to continue for the home team’s winning. The game will be close throughout, but Utah will pull off the win and a backdoor cover. Take the Jazz minus the points!