Portland Trail Blazers (32-26 SU, 28-5-5 ATS, 25-33 O/U) vs. Utah Jazz (30-28 SU, 31-27 ATS, 28-29-1 O/U)
NBA: Friday, February 23, 2018 at 9:00 p.m. EST
The Utah Jazz will be hoping to maintain their incredible momentum when they return from the all-star break to host the Portland Trail Blazers at Vivant Smart Home Arena on Friday night. Utah has won 11 games in a row, suddenly soaring two games over .500 for what at one point looked like a lost season. The Trail Blazers have won three of their last four contests following a victory over Golden State last Wednesday.
Lillard lighting it up
Neither Portland nor any other team is at hot as the Jazz these days, but the Trail Blazers are still positioned ahead of Utah in the Western Conference standings–in the playoff picture, whereas the Jazz are not. Portland finds itself in a tie with sixth-place Denver after entering the break with three wins in the span of four games. Damian Lillard led the way with 44 points as his team upset Golden State 123-117 in the last outing prior to the break. Lillard has been on a tear of late, averaging 44.3 points in the last three games before scoring 21 in 21 minutes of work during the All-Star Game.
“We’ve got to go out there with that mindset that we’ve got to dominate the [rest] of the season,” Lillard said at Thursday’s practice.
The Jazz were the hottest team in the NBA entering the all-star break. They have turned around a disappointing first half with 11 straight wins, including a 115-96 victory at Portland on Feb. 11. The surge has pushed Utah to within 1.5 games of the eighth and final playoff spot in the Western Conference and just 4.5 games out of third place, although the players are not looking too far up in the standings.
“If we ever start to feel good about ourselves, all we have to do is take a look at the standings,” center Rudy Gobert explained. “We’re still in 10th place.”
All-star weekend allowed rookie Donovan Mitchell to shine, as the 21-year-old recorded five steals and seven assists in the Rising Stars Challenge before winning the Slam Dunk Contest.
“It was a lot of fun, and it was a little tiring,” Mitchell commented. “It was a long weekend, and it was my first time doing All-Star weekend, so I wanted to do everything possible. But the thing I have to remember is that was last Saturday, and last Saturday was last Saturday. Now, it’s back to the season.”
The Portland Trail Blazers are:
- 1-6-1 ATS in their last eight road games against teams with winning home records
- 0-5-1 ATS in their last six road games against teams with home winning percentages over .600
- 1-4 ATS in their last five games against Utah
The Utah Jazz are:
- 8-3 ATS in their last 11 overall
- 7-3 ATS in their last 10 games against the Western Conference
- 6-1 ATS in their last seven games against teams with winning records
Portland often needs fellow star guard C.J. McCollum to play well along with Lillard in order to be at its best, but McCollum was just 8-for-22 from the floor in the loss to Utah earlier this month. Gobert has four straight double-doubles and at least 10 rebounds in seven consecutive games. Portland is 1-6-1 ATS in its last eight on the road against opponents with winning home records, 0-5-1 ATS in its last six on the road against opponents with home winning percentages over .600, and 0-4 ATS in its last four trips to Utah. The Jazz are 8-3 ATS in their last 11 overall, 7-3 ATS in their last 10 against the Western Conference, 6-1 ATS in its last seven against winning opponents, 7-3 ATS in their last 10 following a win, and 4-1 ATS in the last five meetings between the two teams. Expect those trends to continue.
Pick: Utah Jazz -4
Lillard made all 41 of his free-throw attempts in the last five games. Mitchell has scored at least 24 points in the last four games prior to the break, including 27 in the rout of the Blazers. The over is 11-3 in the Trail Blazers’ last 14 against the Western Conference, 4-1 in their last five against the Northwest Division, 4-1 in their last five after scoring at least 100 points in their previous outing, 4-0 in their last four following a win, and 4-0 in their last four following an ATS win. It is also 5-0 in the Jazz’s last five against winning opponents, 8-2 in their last 10 against the Western Conference, and 5-2 in their last seven after scoring at least 100 points in their previous outing. Look for this one to go over the total.