Portland Trailblazers vs. Utah Jazz Preview and Pick

Portland Trailblazers +3 (15-8) at Utah Jazz -3 (14-9) O/U 193 10:30 PM ET Thursday December 11, 2008 on TNT
By Jason Green at Predictem.com

Tonight the Portland Blazers travel to play the Utah Jazz. The Blazers are in 2nd place in the Northwest Division only game behind the Denver Nuggets, while the Jazz are in 3rd place in the division 1.5 games behind. The Jazz can take over 2nd place in the division with a win tonight. The Blazers look like they are for real and will be a force to deal with in the Western Conference with all their young stars. The Jazz were thought to be the team to beat in the Northwest conference, but even though they are in the race they have not played up to expectations. One of the main reasons is that they have been without star PF Carlos Boozer for the last 10 games due to injury.

The Jazz are 9-3 at home and the Blazers are 8-7 on the road.

Most online sportsbooks have the Jazz as 3 point favorites with a total around 193. The Jazz are posted at -165 as home favorites and the Blazers are posted at +145 as away dogs.

The Jazz come into this game after beating the Minnesota Timberwolves 99-96 last night, The high scorer for the Jazz in that game was Ronnie Brewer going for 25 points on 8/12 shooting. For the game the Jazz shot 32/69 for a FG% of 46.4%. On defense the Jazz clamped down and held the T-Wolves to 33-82 for a FG% of 40.2%.

The Blazers come into this game after losing to the Orlando Magic 109-108 last night on a last-second 3 pointer. The high scorer for the Blazers in that game was Brandon Roy going for 30 points on 10/20 shooting. For the game the Blazers shot well going 40/77 from the floor for a FG% of 51.9%. On defense the Blazers allowed the Magic to shoot 39/77 from the floor for a FG% of 50.6%.

The Jazz rank 10th in scoring (100.2 ppg) and the Blazers rank 16th (98.1 ppg). The Blazers are shooting the highest team 3 PT FG% at 41%. On defense Portland is one of the better team, thank you Greg Oden, ranking 6th in points allowed (94 ppg) and the Jazz aint too bad on D ranking 10th (96.1 ppg). The Blazers are a better rebounding team, but both teams have a positive rebound differential.

This season the Jazz are 12-11 ATS and the Blazers are 11-12. In terms of Over/Under games the Jazz are 13-14 and the Blazers are 11-15.

On the injury front SG Martell Webster is Out for the Blazers and Carlos Boozer and Brevin Knight are day-to-day for the Jazz.

Even though the Jazz won last night they committed 21 turnovers and if they play sloppy like that tonight against the young Blazers they will lose.

Utah is one of the best teams at home, but the Blazers are legit on the road and are over .500 away from the Rose Garden.

One advantage the Blazers have is that they will not face Carlos Boozer, who is one of the best PF’s in the league. He is a good defensive player as well, as the Jazz will have to find a way to contain Blazers PF LeMarcus Aldridge (16.3 ppg 6.7 rpg). In Boozer’s absence backup Paul Millsap has been awesome, averaging 16.9 ppg and 10.8 rpg in the past 10 games.

The Jazz will have to play good perimeter D on the Blazers, who have the best 3 point shooting team in the league.

The key match up in this game will be between the SG’s of each team with the Blazers Brandon Roy and Ronnie Brewer of the Jazz. Both can flat out shoot the rock and fill it up. Brewer has been giving the Jazz more offense since Boozer has been out of action.

Greg Oden may have a big night, as Mehmet Okur of the Jazz is not great on D. However, if the Jazz and PG Deron Williams can break down the perimeter D of the Blazers they will be in good shape, as Oden will have to play away from the basket to guard Okur who likes to shoot the J and stays out of the lane.

Even though Oden has gotten all the press as the new center of the Blazers, backup C Joel Przybilla (6.2 ppg 8 rpg) is quietly having a good year and is a force on the defensive end.

Andrei Kirilenko will have to play good D tonight, as the Blazers will attack the rim without Boozer on the inside to swat away shots.

If the Blazers can win this tough home game they may be the team to beat in the Northwest Division, as they have played a tough schedule and 15 of their first 22 games have been on the road.

Jason’s Pick: Unfortunately for the Blazers, the Salt Palace has always been Taboo. Look for Utah to find a way to win and cover like they usually do vs. Portland at home.