Utah Jazz vs. Portland Trailblazers Preview and Pick

Utah Jazz +6 (46-27) at Portland Trailblazers -6 (46-27) O/U 194 10 PM ET Tuesday March 31, 2009
By Jason Green at Predictem.com

Tonight the Utah Jazz travel to play the Portland Trailblazers in an important Western Conference game. To say these two teams are pretty even is an understatement, as they have the same record, are tied in the conference standings, have both won 2 in a row, and are both 6-4 in their last 10 games. That will all change tonight, as the winner has the outside chance to catch the Houston Rockets for the 4th position in the West and that is HUGE. The reason? Both teams are great at home, but each is several games below .500 in away games.

If one of these teams can catch the Rockets and be the number four seed in the West they will host a first round playoff series. This game may be more important to the Jazz, as even if they can’t catch the Rockets they will play them in the first round if they hold onto the 5th position and that is not a bad thing since the Jazz have eliminated the Rockets in the playoffs in the past two seasons.

Hoops bookies have the Blazers as 6-point favorites with a total around 194. The Blazers are posted at -180 as home favorites and the Jazz are posted at +160 as road dogs.

This season the Blazers are 30-7 at home and the Jazz are 14-21 on the road.

The Jazz come into this game after beating the New York Knicks 112-104 last night. The high scorer for the Jazz in that game was Deron Williams going for 24 points on 10/21 shooting. For the game the Jazz shot lights out going 42/77 from the field for a FG% of 54.5%. On D the Jazz did not have the bets game allowing the Knicks to shoot 36/71 for a FG% of 50.7%.

The Blazers come into this game after crushing the Memphis Grizzlies 86-66 on Saturday night. The high scorer for the Blazers in that game was Brandon Roy going for 21 points on 7/13 shooting. For the game the Blazers shot 32/77 for a FG% of 41.6%. On D the Blazers held the Grizzlies to 28/68 shooting for a FG% of 41.2%.

This season the Jazz rank 7th in scoring (103.3 ppg) and the Blazers rank 14th (99.1 ppg). On D the Blazers rank 9th in points allowed (95 ppg) and the Jazz rank 14th (99.6 ppg). The Blazers are a much better team on the boards, as they have a rebounding differential of +4.9 rpg and the Jazz are at +0.8 rpg.

This season the Blazers are 39-34 ATS and the Jazz are 37-35. In terms of Over/Under games the Blazers are 34/39 this season and the Jazz are 34-36-2.

On the injury front, well there is no front, as neither team is reporting any significant injuries.

The Jazz will have a tougher time moving up in the West, as after playing the Blazers they still have remaining games at Denver, New Orleans, Dallas, San Antonio, and against the Lakers.

The Jazz have been much better since Carlos Boozer (16.5 ppg 10.8 rpg) came back from injury. Boozer not only has to give some Jazz a good game on offense tonight, but he and C Mehmet Okur (17.4 ppg) have to play good inside D on LaMarcus Aldridge (18.1 ppg) who’s averaged 23.7 ppg and 10.3 rpg in his previous 3 games.

Andre Kirilenko is a great defensive player and he will be matching up with whatever player has the hot hand for the Blazers and he will be counted on to be a defensive stopper tonight.

The Jazz have a legit frontcourt with Okur and Boozer and the Blazers are happy the C Greg Oden (8.8 ppg 7.1 rpg) is healthy and can play, as they will need his inside defense tonight.

To stop the Jazz Steve Blake (11.2 ppg) has to play good D on Deron Williams (19 ppg) and not allow him to have a big scoring game. Conversely, Williams and Ronnie Brewer (14 ppg) have to play good perimeter D on Brandon Roy (23 ppg). In their last meeting Roy had 30 points to lead 6 Blazers in double figures in Portland’s 122-108 win on Jan. 31, which was their fifth straight in the series at home.

These teams have played 3 times this season and the home team has won each, as the Jazz have won twice and the Blazers have won once.

Jason’s Pick: I like Portland to cover tonight.