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Utah vs Philadelphia Picks, Predictions & Odds
The Utah Jazz has had some major struggles on the road this year, and has been struggling to stay above .500 in the ultra-competitive Western Conference. The Philadelphia 76ers, however, have struggled at home against Western Conference visitors. This could be a “something’s gotta give” game Friday night when the Jazz pay a visit to the City of Brotherly Love. Here’s a look at what to expect for both teams, plus my final score prediction to help you make your NBA picks tonight.
Utah Jazz (19-19) @ Philadelphia 76ers (23-17), 7 p.m. ET
The Jazz have just a 5-13 record away from home, but it did post a 99-93 win at lowly Charlotte Wednesday night to win consecutive roadies for just the second time this year – it defeated Cleveland, 109-100, Monday night. Before this, though, Utah had dropped six straight and 10 of 11 road outings. Utah does seem to fare better with a better scoring tempo – Utah is 5-1 in its last six games when scoring 99 or more points – and that has happened over the last 10 games, and the Jazz has won four of its last five games overall and its last four games against Eastern Conference teams. Al Jefferson (19.1 ppg, 9.4 rpg) and Paul Millsap (15.6 ppg, 8.9 rpg) are the long double-figure scorers, however, with three other players averaging just less than 10 ppg. Utah ranks a respectable 11th in the league in scoring (96.8 ppg) but is 22nd in scoring prevention (97.5 ppg).
Philly has not done well at defending the home court against the Western Conference, which has affected its record of late after a hot start. The Sixers did dominate Boston, 103-71, in their last outing Wednesday night at home, but have scuttled of late overall, going 3-8 in its last 11 games. And against the West, home has been a house of horrors, as the Sixers are just 2-5 at home against Western teams, topping only Golden State (105-83 in its last West game March 2) and the Lakers (95-90). And with the majority of West teams liking a quicker tempo and pace, Philadelphia seems to lack the ability to get back to cut off the fast-break opportunities. The team doesn’t hurt itself with turnovers, as it makes fewer than 11 turnovers per game. The Sixers are deliberate and balanced offensively, as five current regulars score in double figures, with a sixth (Spencer Hawes) nearing a return to the lineup after an Achilles injury. The Sixers are the league’s stingiest team (87.1 ppg allowed), but ranks just 17th offensively (94.4 ppg), so like other games vs. the West, Philly will have to dictate the tempo of the game to be successful. If this one gets much past 90 points, the advantage goes to the road team.
The latest NBA odds show the 76ers are favored by 6.5 points, while the total has been set for 184.5. The challenge for Philadelphia against Western Conference teams is simply the tempo. Philly has had success in games where it held West teams to 90 or fewer points. If Utah can treat this game like a hoe game and push the tempo, it likely can break its overall road woes and get a three-game road win streak for the first time this year. However, Utah is one of those teams that could be slowed down, especially when the offense focuses on the inside with Jefferson and Millsap. As long as Philly can hang on the boards and not throw the ball around the gym, it will limit the running opportunities that Utah will have, and that will help Philly. Coming off the dominant win over Boston the other night, things should be in Philly’s favor to dictate the tempo, slow Utah down and be the team to get into the 90s and win.
Final Score Prediction: 76ers 95, Jazz 90