Phoenix Suns vs. Utah Jazz Preview and Pick

Phoenix Suns (25-10) +5 , o/u 220 at Utah Jazz (19-17), 10:30 pm Eastern Thursday, TNT
by Zman of

The Phoenix Suns, currently the best team in the West, could be considerably short-handed when they visit the Utah Jazz Thursday night for the back end of an NBA/TNT doubleheader.

Phoenix has won six of its last seven games and owns the best record in the Western Conference after outlasting the Indiana Pacers in overtime Wednesday night 129-122. But the Suns were already without F Grant Hill, who underwent an appendectomy yesterday, and superguard Steve Nash missed the fourth quarter and OT Wednesday night with the flu.

Hill is, obviously, out for Thursday, and Nash is listed as day-to-day at most gaming information outlets. But lists Nash as doubtful, and Phoenix F Shawn Marion as questionable, for Thursday’s game.

Consequently, NBA bookies are a bit erratic as far as this game is concerned, but an averaging of various lines puts Utah as a 5 1/2-point home favorite for Thursday, with a total that has been dropped from as much as 224 to as low as 219. Also, the Jazz are posted at anywhere from -230 to -280 on various moneylines, with the Suns getting around +210 as road underdogs.

Utah struggled through a recent 3-11 stretch, but has won three of its last four games after beating Indiana Tuesday 111-89.


So heading into Thursday’s action, Phoenix leads the Pacific Division by a game and a half over the second-place Los Angeles Lakers, while the Jazz sit in third place in the Northwest Division, 3 games back of the first-place Portland Trailblazers.

The Suns are 15-19 against the spread this season, 13-6 straight up and 9-9-1 vs. the numbers on the road. Meanwhile, Utah is 16-19 ATS, 13-3 SU and 10-6 vs. the numbers at home.

In the first meeting between these two teams this season, Phoenix beat the Jazz 103-98 as 7 1/2-point home chalk back on Dec. 12. Both teams shot below their season averages from the field, and the game easily stayed under its total of 225. But Utah took three of four games from the Suns last season. In those last five meetings in this series, the o/u has gone 2-3 as the games have averaged 213 total points.

Statistically speaking, Phoenix ranks 5th in the league in per-game point differential at +6.0, while the Jazz rank 7th at +4.2.

The Suns, as we all probably know, are one of the better shooting teams in the league, hitting 49% from the floor as a team this season, 38% from 3-point land and 78% from the free-throw line. Utah is also shooting 49% from the field, 35% from long range and 75% from the line.

But the Jazz are allowing opponents to shoot 46% from the floor, Phoenix 45%.

And while Utah ranks 5th in the league at +2.1 boards per game, the Suns rank dead last at -5.6 per game.

The Sagarin PREDICTOR ratings at ranks Phoenix 5th at 95.1, the Jazz 7th at 93.9.

Also on the injury front, Utah F Andrei Kirilenko is listed as both questionable and out for Wednesday’s game after tweaking his back in practice a week ago.

The o/u is a combined 40-31 in Suns and Jazz games this season. Phoenix games are averaging 215 total points, while Utah games are averaging 205 points.