Utah Jazz (53-29 SU, 49-30-3 ATS) vs. Denver Nuggets (53-29 SU, 34-42-6 ATS), 10:30 p.m. EST, Monday, April 19, 2010, Pepsi Center, Denver, Col. TV: ESPN2
by Ryno of Predictem.com
Point Spread: Jazz +7/Nuggets -7
A large part of how teams perform in the NBA playoffs has to do with team health. The Denver Nuggets have no injuries and they’re playing well. But the Utah Jazz have some issues. Andrei Kirilenko is out with a re-aggravated left calf strain, and Mehmet Okur strained his left Achilles in Game 1 on Saturday. Can the Jazz overcome those significant injuries and tie this series up at 1-1 in Game 2 of the Western Conference Quarterfinals? We’ll find out Monday night.
The Jazz hung with the Nuggets for most of Game 1 on Saturday, but the Nuggets made the big plays down the stretch and came away with a 126-113 victory. The Nuggets led by two after the first quarter, by one at the half, and by two after the third quarter, but they outscored the Jazz 38-27 in the fourth quarter to pull away for the win. Carmelo Anthony had an excellent game for the Nuggets with 42 points on 18-for-25 shooting from the field, five assists, four rebounds and no turnovers. Nene scored 19 points, Chauncey Billups had 15 points and eight assists, Aaron Afflalo scored 12 points, J.R. Smith scored 20 points off the bench, and Ty Lawson contributed 11 points, six assists and no turnovers in his first career playoff game.
The Jazz were led by Deron Williams, who had 26 points and 11 assists. Carlos Boozer had 19 points, eight rebounds, five assists and no turnovers, C.J. Miles scored 17 points, Paul Millsap had 15 points and 10 rebounds, and Kyle Korver chipped in with 13 points.
Both teams shot very well from the field. The Jazz shot 55 percent and the Nuggets shot 57 percent. The Nuggets shot 11-for-26 on 3-pointers, while the Jazz were 7-for-17 from 3-point range. The Nuggets controlled the glass with a 42-31 rebounding advantage.
The Nuggets are now 3-0 at home against the Jazz this season. Besides the win on Saturday, the Nuggets also won 114-105 in Denver on opening night back on October 28 as well as a 119-112 home victory on January 17. The Nuggets are now 35-7 at home this season, while the Jazz are now 21-21 on the road. The Nuggets also won both home meetings against the Jazz last season. The Jazz’s last win in Denver was a 118-115 victory on February 6, 2008.
The Jazz are also a very strong home team, as they have a 32-9 record in Salt Lake City this season. A win in Game 2 to even the series and take over the home court advantage would be huge for the Jazz. In order to do so, they have to figure out a way to stop Carmelo and limit the 3-point shooting of the Nuggets. Without Kirilenko, the Jazz don’t really have a defensive stopper who can guard Carmelo. The only player who may be able to match up size-wise is Miles. If it’s not him, maybe Millsap can guard him. But either way, the Jazz have a lot of work to do if they want to limit Carmelo’s production.
With Okur out, the Jazz don’t have much size down low. Kyrylo Fesenko and Kosta Koufos will likely see more playing time at center. The two of them combined for eight minutes of action in Game 1. The Jazz will likely go small for much of the game with two of their forwards – Boozer, Millsap and Miles – serving as the big men down low. Look for the Nuggets to exploit that size advantage by pounding the ball inside and driving to the basket even more than they did in Game 1.
The over is 4-0 in the last four meetings between these teams in Denver and 5-1 in the last six meetings overall. The favorite and the home team are both 3-1-2 ATS in the last six meetings between these teams. The Jazz are 0-7-2 ATS in their last nine meetings against the Nuggets and 0-4-1 ATS in their last five meetings in Denver.
Ryno’s Pick: I expect more of the same tonight. Denver wins by 10+ and covers the spread.