Lakers face the league’s best in the Jazz

Kelvin Kuo-USA TODAY Sports

A couple of weeks ago, you could feel Lakers fans, Jazz fans, and NBA fans in general looking ahead to tonight’s matchup between the two top teams in the Western Conference. Two weeks ago, the Utah Jazz were rolling with the Los Angeles Lakers right on their heels. The Jazz were in 1st at 20-5 while the Lakers were 2nd at 19-6. Things have definitely changed, as the Lakers are now tied for 2nd place (with the Clippers) at 22-10 (as of Tuesday evening before the Clippers played). Things haven’t really changed for the Jazz, as they are now 25-6 and are easily the hottest and best team in the NBA. Still, even with the two teams’ different trajectories, this would have been a very exciting matchup with both at full strength. That is sadly not the case though, as the Lakers will again be without Anthony Davis and Dennis Schröder. They will probably have a hard time scoring enough points to keep up with the Jazz in this one, as the Jazz are 5th in Offensive Rating in the past 10 games while the Lakers are all the way down at 23rd. The Lakers are 4th in Defensive Rating in that time, a statistic that may give a Laker fan hope for tonight…if the Jazz weren’t right in front of them at 2nd.

Here’s our preview of tonight’s game that will hopefully not be a blowout.

Injury news

No injury news out yet as of the time writing this, but as said previously, Anthony Davis and Dennis Schröder will remain out. Schröder has the opportunity to return on Friday against the Trail Blazers.

Betting central

Jazz -8.5; Over/under 218.5; Jazz moneyline -345 (Lakers moneyline +280)

Oof. That’s right, ladies and gentlemen. The Jazz are favored to beat the Lakers by 8.5 points. Without looking, this has to easily be the highest spread total in a game where the Lakers were underdogs (looking at the Action Network the Lakers have only been underdogs once this season). It’s not too surprising considering the circumstances…and I’m sorry to say…but Jazz -8.5 will be the first pick I suggest.

The odds are just too stacked against the Lakers in this one with where each team is at currently. Add in the fact that this will be in Salt Lake City, and my confidence in Jazz -8.5 just grows stronger. Sure, the Lakers are one of the better teams on the road (13-3 this season) but the Jazz are also one of the best teams at home (14-2) and are one of the few teams in the Association with a sizable crowd to back them up. In addition, they’ve been raining threes during this run they’ve had and the Lakers have shown recently that they are struggling with contesting threes on the perimeter lately. I sense a blowout coming.

As for my other bets, I’ll take the Lakers scoring under 105.5 points but will also take Kentavious Caldwell-Pope’s over on three-pointers made at 1.5 (odds via Action Network). He’s been quietly breaking out of his slump in the past couple of games, making seven of 13 attempts during that time. Take the prop bet while Vegas oddsmakers are still factoring in the slump.

As always, feel free to fade me! I’m 10-18-2 on the season now after the most recent Wizards game, so you’d probably be better off picking against me. Cheers!

Where to watch

The Lakers will be nationally televised on ESPN, but will also be on Spectrum SportsNet. Tip-off at 7:00 p.m. PST.

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