Utah Jazz vs. Washington Wizards Preview and Pick

Utah Jazz (28-18) -3, 199 at Washington Wizards (24-20), 8 pm Eastern Friday, ESPN
by Zman of Predictem.com

First place in the Northwest Division meets second place in the Southeast when the resurgent Utah Jazz visit the Washington Wizards Friday night in the opener of an ESPN/NBA double-header.

NBA Sportsbooks list the Jazz as 3 1/2-point road chalk, with a total of 199. Also, Utah is posted at around -180 on the moneyline, with the Wizards getting +160 as home underdogs.

After stumbling through a 5-11 month of December, Utah awoke and went 11-2 in January, and has won its last six games straight, including a 100-89 decision over New York Wednesday. With their recent good play, the Jazz have reclaimed first place in the Northwest Division, a half-game clear of the second-place Denver Nuggets.

Washington has recovered after starting this season by losing its first five games. The Wizards went 9-6 in January, but ended the month on a downer with a 122-83 loss at Toronto Wednesday. Going into this weekend, Washington sits in second place in the Southeast Division, 3 games back of the first-place Orlando Magic. The Wizards also occupy the six spot in the Eastern Conference standings.

Utah is 23-22 against the spread this season, but just 8-15 both straight up and vs. the numbers on the road. Meanwhile, Washington is a profitable 26-16 ATS this season, and 15-8 both SU and vs. the numbers at home.


These two teams have split their season series the last two years. Last season, Utah won 103-97 at home, and the Wizards won 114-111 in DC. But the Jazz held a considerable advantage on the boards, out-rebounding Washington 96-79 in the two games total.

Statistically speaking, Utah ranks 5th in the league in point differential at +5.5 per game, while the Wiz rank 14th at +1.1.

The Jazz are shooting 49% from the field as a team this season, 36% from 3-point land and 75% from the free-throw line. At the other end of the court, Washington is shooting 45% from the floor, 35% from long range and 80% from the line.

The Wizards are allowing opponents to shoot 45% from the floor, Utah 46%. And while the Jazz rank 7th in the league in rebounding at +2.0 per game, Washington ranks 10th at +1.4.

The Sagarin PREDICTOR ratings at USAToday.com ranks Utah 7th at 94.8, the Wizards 14th at 90.9. Sagarin’s current NBA home-court advantage figure is 3.15.

On the injury front, it’s not enough that Washington has been playing since November without high-flying guard Gilbert Arenas. The Wiz have also played their last two games without leading scorer Caron Butler, who suffered a hip injury last weekend. Reports also mention Butler has the flu, and he’s listed as questionable for Friday’s game. Which doesn’t bode well for Washington, which, according to USAToday.com, is 5-17 over the last two seasons when Butler is out of action.

The o/u is 25-21 in Jazz games this season, which are averaging 205 total points, while the totals are 22-22 in Wizards games, which are averaging 197 points.

Zman’s Pick: Over 199.