It’s a heavyweight matchup as the conference-leading Utah Jazz (48-18) take on their Northwest Division rivals, the Denver Nuggets (44-22). The season series is split 1-1 between the two but it now shifts to Utah, where the Jazz have an NBA-best 29 wins.
As a result, the Jazz are -175 betting favorites while the Nuggets are +155 underdogs. The spread is four points. This is the biggest Utah is favored over Denver. We’ll see a battle between two of the NBA’s finest big men, though the difference will likely be whichever team’s supporting cast shoots better.
Nikola Jokic: Utah’s Nightmare
Nikola Jokic has played like a man possessed against Utah this season and even ended their 11-game winning streak. In two games against the Jazz, Jokic has averaged 41 points, 13 rebounds, and seven assists. He’s shooting 633/700/929 against them. That’s not a typo. The Jazz can’t stop Jokic.
But heading to Utah, expect a bit of a decline in Jokic’s production. The Jazz have the NBA’s best home defense and they limit opponents to just 43.1% shooting and under 42 rebounds. Still, bet Jokic to have another big night as the Nuggets’ main option.
Pick: Nikola Jokic (DEN) Total Points+Rebounds+Assists – Over 44½ Points+Rebs+Assists (-135)
Rudy Gobert: On His Broad Shoulders
Aptly named “The Stifle Tower”, Rudy Gobert is considered the NBA’s best defensive center. That takes a bit of a hit considering how monstrous Jokic has played against him this season. But going back to Utah, Gobert can exact a bit of revenge.
Gobert has had some big games against Jokic in Utah. He had 16 and 14 against him last season and then 20 and 10 in their final meeting in the 2018-19 season. The Frenchman sees an uptick in his per 36 minutes stats at home and he should be able to hit a big double-double.
Pick: Rudy Gobert (UTA) Total Points+Rebs+Assists – Over 27½ Points (-130)
Joe Ingles: The Difference-Maker
Utah’s most underrated player has been a big reason why their offense hasn’t slowed down even without G Mike Conley (hamstring) and G Donovan Mitchell (ankle). Ingles is averaging 14.2 points and 6.9 assists. In four of his last five, he’s had at least seven dimes.
A lot of Ingles’ impact doesn’t register on the stat sheet otherwise, his assist totals would be lofiter. But over 7½ assists is steep for a player that’s averaged just under seven assists even with the increased usage.
Pick: Joe Ingles (UTA) Total Assists – Under 7½ Assists (-145)
Highest Scoring Quarter: Hot Starters
The Denver Nuggets and Utah Jazz not only have two of the best offenses in the NBA, they’re two of the fastest starters. Utah can go nuclear quickly like they did against San Antonio. Utah scores the most first quarter points at home at just over 31 points while Denver scores the second-most first quarter points at just over 30.
There’s a bit of a drop-off in the second quarter due to the bench. But the Jazz still have a prolific second-unit with their bench players averaging 38.8 points at home, the eighth-most point in the NBA.
Defenses tighten up after the first half with the Jazz allowing the fewest third quarter points. The Nuggets also register their best defensive numbers in the fourth and allow just over 25 points, seventh-fewest.
Their last meeting saw a combined 133 points in the first-half and and the first one had 64 points in the first period. This game could be a high scoring one and most of the damage will be done in the first-half. The NBA line here is decent considering the history.
Pick: Highest Scoring Half – 1st Half (-140)