Utah Jazz vs. Denver Nuggets Preview and Pick – 29218

Utah Jazz +4 (46-28) at Denver Nuggets -4 (49-26) O/U 209 10: 30 PM ET Thursday April 2, 2009 on TNT
By Jason Green at Predictem.com

Tonight the Utah Jazz travel to the Mile High City to take on the Denver Nuggets. Even though the Nuggets are in the 2nd position in the Western Conference and the Jazz are 7th position, there is only a 2.5 game difference between the two teams. The last few games in the NBA season are important to both these teams in terms of their playoff positioning. The Jazz really need to move up to, at least, the 4th position, so they can host a first round playoff series. The Jazz are legit at home, but on the road they are 8 games under .500 away from the Delta Center.

Nobody is really talking about the Nuggets as a possible championship contender, but they have the 4th best record in the league, have won 4 in a row, and are 9-1 in their last 10 games. The Jazz are only 5-5 in their last 10 games and are coming off a road loss,. Beating the Nuggets would be HUGE for the Jazz not only in terms of moving up in the West, but giving them confidence knowing they can beat a solid team on the road.

This season the Nuggets are 29-8 at home and the Jazz are only 14-22 on the road.

NBA Sportsbooks have the Nuggets as 4-point favorites in this game with a total of around 209. The Nuggets are posted at -165 as home favorites and the Jazz are posted at +165 as away dogs.

The Nuggets come into this game after beating the New York Knicks 111-104 on Tuesday night. The high scorer for the Nuggets in the game was Carmelo Anthony going for 29 points on 13/20 shooting. For the game, the Nuggets showed well going 46/84 from the floor for a FG% of 54.8%. On D the Nuggets allowed the Knicks to shoot 38/75 for a FG% of 44.7%.

The Jazz come into this game after getting crushed by the Portland Trailblazers 125-104 on Tuesday night. The high scorer for the Jazz in that game was Carlos Boozer going for 20 points on 10/12 shooting. For the game the Jazz shot 37/75 for a FG% of 49.3%. On D, the Jazz simply did not play any considering the Blazers torched them shooting 47/76 for a red hot FG% of 61.8%. As they say in Portland…Rip city!

These teams are pretty even in the scoring department, as this season the Nuggets rank 6th (103.9 ppg) and the Jazz rank 7th (103.4 ppg). Both of these teams are not the best on the defensive end, as the Jazz rank 16th in points allowed (100 ppg) and the Nuggets rank 18th (100.7 ppg). These teams are pretty even on defense and offense, so it is no surprise that they are even on the glass as well, as the Jazz have a rebounding differential of +0.7 rpg and the Jazz are at +0.5 rpg.

This season the Nuggets are 41-31-2 ATS and the Jazz are 37-36. In terms of Over/Under games the Nuggets are 38-35-1 and the Jazz are 35-36-2.

On the injury front F Andrei Kirilenko is day-to-day for the Jazz and little used PF Steven Hunter is day-to-day for the Nuggets.

For the Jazz to pull off the upset tonight they will have to play some D for a change, especially on Carmelo Anthony (22.9 ppg), who has been on fire as of late averaging 32.2 ppg in his last 5 games reminding us all that LeBron James and Dwayne Wade aren’t the only 2 young superstars in the league.

The PG match up is a good one with Deron Williams (19 ppg) and Chauncey Billups (18.1 ppg). Each has to play good D on the other and not let each other penetrate allowing for kickouts to the many good three point gunners on each team employs.

If Melo and Billups are lighting it up from the outside it will open up the lane for Kenyon Martin (11.7 ppg) and Nene (14.6 ppg). These two will have to play good D and contain Carlos Boozer (16.6 ppg 10.6 rpg) not letting him dominate inside. On the other side of the coin Jazz C Mehmet Okur has to hit his outside J tonight to clear some space inside for Boozer to work.

Jazz F Andrei Kirilenko is banged up (as usual) and the Jazz need his defense tonight against a Nuggets team that has won 13 of their last 15 games at home.

Jason’s Pick: Despite all the trends and recent events making Denver look like an obvious pick here, four points is a lot to give a Utah team that will be looking for respect after getting their asses handed to them by the Blazers. Take the Jazz to cover in a close game.