Utah has been putting a scare into the Los Angeles Lakers and they are only a game behind the Lakers heading into Wednesday’s round of final regular-season clashes. While the Lakers host Houston at home, the Jazz will be in Memphis. Both teams have something to play for but the Jazz are a road dog on the NBA betting odds, so they’ll need a win and some help to get into the playoffs.
Utah Jazz @ Memphis Grizzlies
Odds: Grizzlies -6.5
The Jazz obviously have more to play for as they need the Lakers to slip up at home against the Rockets, and Utah holds the tiebreak between the two teams with wins in two of their three meetings with the Lakers this season. The Jazz have won eight of their last 10 games and continue to put pressure on the Lakers at every turn, even though Utah looks like a team that will be broken up after the season. Most of the team are playing on expiring contracts and the Jazz definitely can’t afford to keep everyone. Al Jefferson and Paul Millsap look to get most of the attention from teams, but it is a credit to this squad that everyone is still playing hard and that helps the value of all players.
The Grizzlies are sitting in fifth place in the Western Conference, a half-game behind the Los Angeles Clippers, who host Portland in their finale on Tuesday night. Memphis needs the Clippers to lose on Tuesday as Los Angeles holds the upper hand in the battle for the tiebreak, winning three of four against the Grizzlies this season, but a loss would give Memphis the chance to move up to fourth, which would give them home court for at least the first round of the playoffs. The Grizzlies were left for dead by a lot of people when they traded Rudy Gay to Toronto, but in Marc Gasol and Zach Randolph down low, Memphis is still tough to stop in the post and led by Tony Allen, they’re hard as nails on defense.
Memphis has won three of the last five meetings with the Jazz, and the Grizzlies are 31-9 at home this season, so you can see why they would be hoping for the Clippers to fall so they would have a chance at playing on their own floor to start the playoffs. The Jazz are a miserable 13-27 on the road this season, but their backs are against the wall and you never know how a team is going to react in that situation; as of late, the Jazz have reacted well, but this is a lot of pressure.
Whichever team gets better guard play will likely end up with the win as they could play to a standstill in the post with Millsap and Jefferson battling Gasol and Randolph. Both teams are built very similar and it wouldn’t be a surprise if this game came down to the last possession or two. Don’t expect either team to give an inch in Memphis on Wednesday night because there is a lot on the table for both of these Western Conference squads. Take the Jazz on the betting lines but don’t be surprised if the Grizzlies win.
Pick: Jazz +6.5