It’s been rocky sessions for the Western Conference-leading Utah Jazz lately as they’re just one loss away from conceding the number one seed to Phoenix. Utah heads to the Golden 1 Center to take on the Sacramento Kings (25-36), who are lively underdogs this Wednesday at +330.
The Jazz (44-17), despite being without guards Donovan Mitchell and Mike Conley, are nine-point betting online favorites (-390 on the moneyline). They blew out the Kings the last time they played and easily covered 11½ points. But this is asking for a lot when they’re missing two of their best players. Sacramento should take advantage here.
Jazz: Under Pressure
Pressure is what creates diamonds and the Utah Jazz have been anything but brilliant when faced with it. They are 0-3 in overtime and have lost close games against the Los Angeles Clippers, Phoenix and Philadelphia, to name a few.
Now, without Mitchell, the Jazz have flunked two games against the lowly Timberwolves. Mitchell is the team’s leading scorer, averaging 26.4 points, 5.2 assists and 3.4 three-pointers.
Losing Mitchell does not necessarily tank the Jazz’s offense, but also missing Conley might. The 12-year veteran made his first All-Star game this season and is averaging 16.4 points and a team-leading six assists.
Without both Mitchell and Conley, the Jazz’s offense is five points worse. Conley also is a linchpin on defense and with him off the floor, Utah’s opponents’ rating goes up to 113, a near-1- point increase from him being on the floor.
Kings: Somewhere Between Kings and Peons
The Jazz won’t be the only team missing key players. The Sacramento Kings are without star guard De’Aaron Fox (quarantine), who is out for 10 days. Yet even without Fox, the Kings put it on the Dallas Mavericks early and came away with a 113-106 win.
Dimes on dimes for Tyrese Haliburton in the @SacramentoKings victory over the Mavs 💸
14 PTS – 10 AST – 3 STL – 40 FPTS pic.twitter.com/ExMrGuwmCp
— NBA Fantasy (@NBAFantasy) April 27, 2021
That was an inspiring win for Sacramento, but it’s only their third in 14 games. The Kings have been messing around with the lottery race and have the fourth-worst net rating and third-fewest wins in April.
Without Fox, the Kings lose their primary playmaker and scorer. However, as their win against the Mavs showed, the Kings are capable of getting enough production from a lineup filled with veterans and promising prospects.
Guards Tyrese Haliburton and Buddy Hield are three-point threats who can take over games. Forward Richaun Holmes, if he doesn’t get into foul trouble, can put up 15 points at over 64% shooting. Forward Harrison Barnes is usually good for 18 points. They’re not exactly kings, but they have the talent to avoid being peons.
The Sacramento Kings and their backers have an opportunity to cash out here. The Jazz losing Mitchell is one thing, but losing Conley as well decreases their production exponentially. The Kings happen to have a talented backcourt that could have more breathing room without Conley hounding them.
Sacramento at +330 on the NBA betting lines is tempting. But do note that these are the Kings, who have one of the worst defenses in the league. The undermanned Jazz could still drop 120 points without breaking a sweat. However, Utah will also have a tough time keeping the Kings from scoring.
The Jazz’s defensive rating rises to 110.3 on the road compared to 104.2 at home. That’s mostly the reason why Utah is only 18-13 on the road and 15-16 against the spread. Now they’re nine-points favorites over a team they allowed 65 points to in a half while they had a full roster.
Utah is still the better team and will be able to play more consistently over 48 minutes. But nine points is a lot. Take the Kings to cover.
Pick: Sacramento Kings +9