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NBA Preview: 17th January

WE look to kick off the week with another good day of NBA betting for punters.

It’s been a good season so far for us here at the PlayBook so let’s try and keep it rolling;

Utah Jazz @ Denver Nuggets

THE Utah Jazz look to bounce back to their winning ways as they take on a rejuvenated Nuggets side in Denver.

With Rudy Gobert cleared of the injury report and expected to play, he will be a welcome return for the Jazz who have dropped four of their last five games without the big Frenchman. Their lone win over this stretch being against their opposition.

Utah was able to make the most of Denver’s in-game lapses, putting together some nice runs and capitalising on a lackluster 3rd quarter from the Nuggets. This has been a problem with Mike Malone’s team all season, with the Nuggets having the second worst net rating (-7.2) in closing halves this season.

Denver has struggled to apply pressure on opponents this season and its largely due to the value of their replacement players and dealing with non-Jokic minutes.  The reigning MVP is putting forth another incredible season and has been able to carry his teammates to a 21-19 despite Michael Porter Jnr and PJ Dozier missing significant time.

Jokic’s on/off splits see a 20-point swing, with his time on the court being undone by minutes on the bench.

One area where Denver has excelled this season has been their ability to force opponent turnovers and attack in transition. They are in the top third of the league for points scored per possession and frequency in transition offence.  This is going to be a huge key for this matchup as Utah is allowing opponents to score 18 points per game off 14.5 turnovers averaged per game.

Utah has also had their first stretch this season having to deal with lineup changes and key components to their roster missing time.  One of the keys to Utah’s success in the regular season has been their consistency of lineup. With the reintroduction of several key players it could take them some time to gel together as a unit and find their polish.

Denver also do a great job in limiting opponent shooting from beyond the arc, an area where Utah take a high percentage of their shots from.

Defensively, the Jazz identity has been to apply pressure to outside shooters with the comfort of Rudy Gobert being able to play last line of defence with great positioning and shot blocking ability.  This works a lot better when the point of attack is coming traditionally from the opponent point guard. This is where Denver’s unique position of running plays through Jokic can disrupt the point of attack defence to draw Gobert’s attention away from simply being an anchor at the rim. Denver has the bodies to apply pressure on cuts and screens and attack in a multitude of ways to break down this sturdy Utah defence.

Denver will be riding high after two massive blowout wins against Portland and the Lakers and I expect them to be up to the task in this one.

My model has Utah winning as small favourites in this matchup so im going to lock in the home side as 5 point underdogs in what should really be a 1-2 possession game.

Our best bet: Denver Nuggets +5.5 $1.94 at PlayUp


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