A pair of teams from the Western Conference take the floor in the Valley of the Sun looking to pick up a victory on Thanksgiving weekend. The Utah Jazz are on the road as they make the trip to face the Phoenix Suns Saturday night. Utah was in action against Golden State Friday night on the road in the front half of a back-to-back set that concludes here. The Jazz were beaten 125-116 at home by Detroit Wednesday night in their previous contest, losing outright as an 11.5-point favorite. Phoenix was at home against Detroit Friday night in the front half of their back-to-back set. The Suns knocked off the Lakers 115-105, covering the 9.5-point spread in the process. In the all-time regular season series between the teams, the Suns own a 99-95 advantage but the Jazz took a 134-133 home win in the first meeting this season on November 18.
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Utah Jazz Hoping to Turn Things AroundUtah was on the road against Golden State Friday night so this marks the second game of a back-to-back situation and their third game in four nights around the Thanksgiving holiday. The Jazz entered Friday losers of two straight and were 12-8 on the season, leaving them tied with Denver for the top spot in the Northwest Division standings. Utah was 6-6 on the road this season entering Friday’s action. They had been outscored by 0.6 points per game (114.2 ppg for, 114.8 ppg against) in those situations. The Jazz are 3-2 in the second game of back-to-back situations with a +3.2-ppg scoring margin (117.4 ppg for, 114.2 ppg against) this season. Utah is 11-4 against Western Conference teams and they outscore their opponents by 4.8 points per game (119 ppg for, 114.2 ppg against) this season.
The Jazz comes into this contest 4th in the league in scoring offense with 117.4 points per game this season. Utah is 13th in rebounding by pulling down 44.2 boards per night while standing 7th by dishing out 27.7 assists a night. The Jazz are 23rd in the league in scoring defense as they allow 115.1 points per contest. Lauri Markkanen leads the Jazz as he puts up 22 points plus 8.5 rebounds per contest. Jordan Clarkson (19.3 points, 4.5 assists), Kelly Olynyk (12.4 points), Collin Sexton (13.1 points), Mike Conley (10.2 points, 7.9 assists) and Malik Beasley (14.4 points) are capable scoring options. Jarred Vanderbilt, Rudy Gay, Walker Kessler, Talen Horton-Tucker, Nickeil Alexander-Walker and Ochai Agbaji are important pieces for coach Will Hardy. Utah is shooting 47% from the field, which is 13th in the league in field goal percentage. The Jazz knock down an average of 14.8 triples per game, which is 4th in the league, and stand 8th in three-point field goal percentage by knocking down 37.4% of their attempts from beyond the arc.
Conley (knee) is expected to return in early December after getting injured against Portland November 19. Gay (finger) is expected to be re-evaluated next week: he hasn’t played since November 13.
Phoenix Suns Close Back-to-Back Home Set Looking for VictoryPhoenix was at home against Detroit Friday night looking to extend their win streak as they entered with back-to-back wins on the books. The Suns entered Friday’s game 11-6 on the season: they held a one-game lead on the Kings and Clippers for the top spot in the Pacific Division. Phoenix beat Portland 102-82 at home in the second game of their lone back-to-back situation so far this season back on November 5. The Suns went into Friday 9-1 at home with a +12.8-ppg scoring differential (117.4 ppg for, 104.6 ppg against) this season. Phoenix is 10-3 against Western Conference opponents this year and they own a +10.2-ppg scoring margin (118.7 ppg for, 108.5 ppg against) in those contests.
The Suns enter this contest 9th in the league in scoring offense as they average 115.1 points per game on the year. Phoenix stands 18th in rebounding with an average of 43.7 boards per contest while they are 6th by dishing out an average of 27.7 assists per contest. The Suns are 6th in the league in scoring defense as they allow an average of 107.8 points per game this season. Devin Booker leads the team with 27.4 points plus 5.8 assists per game this season. Cameron Johnson (13 points), Mikal Bridges (16.3 points, 5.5 rebounds), Chris Paul (9.5 points, 9.4 assists), Deandre Ayton (14.6 points, 8.5 rebounds) and Jock Landale (7.3 points) are good offensive weapons. Cameron Payne (13.9 points, 4.7 assists), Landry Shamet, Torrey Craig, Damion Lee, Bismack Biyombo, Dario Saric and Josh Okogie are solid contributors in the rotation. Phoenix is 11th in field goal percentage by shooting 47.2% from the floor as a team on the year. The Suns are 7th as they knock down an average of 13 three-pointers a night while the team is 5th as they splash 38.4% of their attempts from beyond the arc this season.
Johnson (knee) had surgery after getting injured against Portland November 4. He is expected to miss one to two months, so mid-December is probably the best-case scenario for his return. Paul (heel) has been out since November 7 though he has returned to practice. His status for this game is murky. Shamet (concussion) has been out since November 9 and is expected to be re-evaluated in the next few days.
Best Bets for this Game
Full-Game Side Bet
There are only four games on the NBA slate Saturday after the jam-packed schedule Friday that saw 28 of the 30 teams in action. Utah is playing their third game in four nights here and this marks their 14th road game this season against eight home games. The Jazz have sputtered on the defensive end of the floor lately and missing Conley is a big blow as he is a floor general on both ends. Phoenix has dealt with their share of injuries as well though Paul could be on the comeback trail in the near future. The Suns have the edge of playing at home the last couple of games so there is no travel involved for them leading into this contest. Phoenix has quality depth and they have been stellar at home this season: that’s enough to get by a tired, banged-up Utah squad here as they even the season series.
Full-Game Total Pick
Utah has seen the over hit in 11 of their 20 games on the season entering Friday night. The Jazz have an average total of 232.5 points per game this season though that number trends down slightly to 231.6 ppg in the second game of back-to-back situations on the year. Utah is 11th in the league in tempo as they average 100.2 possessions per game this season. Phoenix entered Friday having seen the under hit in 10 of their 17 games on the year. The Suns see an average total of 222.9 points per game on the year. Their lone back-to-back situation saw a combined 184 points in what turned out to be a low-scoring affair. At home, the Suns see an average total of 222 points per game. The first meeting saw the teams combine for 267 points but with fatigue and injuries taking a toll, this game is a lower-scoring game. Lean toward the under here.