Prediction, Preview, and Odds
#2577 Oklahoma City Thunder vs.
#2578 Utah Jazz
Tuesday, April 13, 2021 at 9:05pm EDT
Vivint Smart Home Arena, Salt Lake City
Written by Roberto Arguello

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The Jazz host the Thunder Tuesday night in the second of three meetings between these teams this season. The Jazz won the previous matchup on December 28th 110-109 in Oklahoma City with Donovan Mitchell hitting a layup with seven seconds to play that ended up as the game-winning bucket.

Since that competitive game, these teams have headed in opposite directions as the Jazz have the best Net Rating (9.3) while the Thunder have the worst Net Rating (-8.6) in the entire NBA. The Thunder have lost six consecutive games (all losses against the spread too) after losing to the 76ers on Saturday 117-93, and they have lost all six by double digits. The Jazz are coming off of an upset 125-121 home loss to the Wizards on Monday as double-digit favorites.

Can Dort Lead the Thunder to a Cover?

If the Thunder cover or pull the huge upset as double-digit underdogs, it will be because they shot the ball well from the three-point line. The Thunder are dealing with some key injuries as Aleksej Pokusevski (sore right arm), Josh Hall (concussion), Mike Muscala (ankle), Gabriel Deck (not injury related), and Isaiah Roby (concussion) are all out. Shai Gilgeous-Alexander (foot) remains out indefinitely while Al Horford (age) will not be playing as the Thunder turn to younger players for the rest of the season.

The Thunder will need their young trio of Theo Maledon, Lu Dort, and Moses Brown to step up to pull the upset. The Thunder have lost nine of 10 games since Shai Gilgeous-Alexander played his last game on March 22nd due to plantar fasciitis, and the Thunder will need at least two of these three to have big nights to cover.

Maledon will need to find the balance between over-passing and being aggressive enough to attack the 76ers’ defense when they give him room. Dort will need to play incredible defense and hold Donovan Mitchell in check while getting hot from beyond the arc on offense. Brown will continue pounding the offensive glass and take advantage when Rudy Gobert is out of position.

Mitchell on Fire

If the Jazz win and cover as heavy home favorites, they will need Donovan Mitchell to continue shooting the lights out as Jordan Clarkson (ankle) is doubtful to play. Mike Conley missed Monday’s game due to rest, but he is expected to play Tuesday.

Monday’s home loss snapped a Jazz franchise-record 24-game winning streak despite a game-high 42 points from Mitchell. Mitchell has been playing great basketball lately as he has scored at least 37 points in four consecutive games as he has taken his stepback jumper to another level, and he will need to shoulder a larger portion of the load than normal with Clarkson likely out.

The Jazz will need to keep the basketball moving offensively to find the open man to be at their best. Utah leads the NBA as threes make up 45.0% of their shot attempts this season, and they are the third-most accurate team from beyond the arc as they are making 39.7% of their threes.

Mitchell has been amazing lately, but many of his teammates have been incredibly efficient as Rudy Gobert, Joe Ingles, Derrick Favors, and Conley all rank in at least the 85th percentile (among their respective position groups) in points per 100 shot attempts. Ingles has been awesome this season as a scorer and distributor as his 143.2 points per 100 shots rank in the 99th percentile among forwards, and his 22.0% assist rate ranks in the 94th percentile among forwards. The Jazz will need Ingles to play a bigger role than normal as a scorer and secondary pick-and-roll ball-handler with Clarkson likely unavailable off the bench.

Best Bets for this Game

Full-Game Side Bet

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The Jazz are easily the better team even without Clarkson, and even though they are playing on the second leg of a back-to-back, they will get Conley back and be motivated to bounce back after a disappointing home loss to the Wizards. The Thunder are openly tanking, and they simply don’t have the offensive firepower to stay competitive without SGA available, especially against the Jazz’s elite defense that should be focused. Expect Mitchell to stay hot despite Dort’s defensive efforts as the Jazz win and cover.

Prediction: Jazz -16.5

Full-Game Total Pick

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Take the under as the Jazz’s defense should smother the Thunder’s struggling offense. The Thunder’s offense ranks dead last as they are scoring just 104.8 points per 100 possessions this season, and they are facing the best effective field goal percentage defense in the NBA. The Thunder won’t make enough shots and will likely get dominated on the glass, and their low team total will keep the final score below the total.

Prediction: Under 223
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Written By Roberto Arguello , "Roberto Arguello"

Roberto is a college basketball and NBA sports betting analyst. Prior to joining our team at Winners & Whiners he broadcasted for PGA TOUR LIVE and was the voice of Stanford Football on KZSU 90.1 FM. His sports betting articles have been featured on Sporting News, The Action Network, and BetQL. Roberto enjoys long romantic walks through the fairways and fullback handoffs.