This weekend’s home-and-home series between the Utah Jazz and the Sacramento Kings should provide fans with plenty of hoops to unwind with after yesterday’s eating bonanza. The Jazz (6-6), who are 4-0 at home, are looking for their third straight victory tonight, while the Kings (3-8) enter the matchup coming off a big win over the Los Angeles Lakers. Utah and Sacramento split their four games last season. Utah is an absolute beast at home, however, and it should be no surprise they are favored in tonight’s game.
AccuScore simulations project a Jazz victory approximately 75 percent of the time (money line -456), with an average score of 102-95. It’s probably the safer bet to take Sacramento and the points since the Jazz only cover the spread (-9) in 42 percent of the simulations. At the time of publication, the oddsmakers changed the Jazz to 9.5-point favorites.
Although the data heavily favors Utah, it is actually Sacramento with a higher chance (58.5 percent to Utah’s 41.8 percent) to get a big win (10 points or more). The percentages for a close win (4 points or less) are low, indicating that AccuScore data expects Utah to win by five to nine points.
The Jazz recently employed a new starting lineup, inserting Randy Foye and Derrick Favors instead of Gordon Hayward and Marvin Williams. Favors is at the power forward spot and Millsap was moved to the Coach Ty Corbin made the change two games prior and has already seen improved production from Hayward as a result. The Jazz defeated the Rockets on Monday, behind 30 assists and 30 fast-break points.
There’s quite a difference in production from Al Jefferson in Utah’s wins and losses. In the six wins, he is averaging 19 points and 14 rebounds per game; in the six losses, he’s averaging 11.5 points and 10 rebounds per game. Most importantly, he’s shooting 47 percent in wins and close to 40 percent in losses. AccuScore projects 17 points and 10 rebounds for Jefferson, who had tipped in the winning basket with nine-tenths of a second left in a 103-102 victory against the Kings in Salt Lake City on March 22.
Paul Millsap, on the other hand, has been about as consistent in wins as he has been in losses. He’s averaging 15 points and 9 rebounds per game, along with a block and steal too. His production has dropped dramatically after being moved to the small forward spot. In the last two games, he’s averaging just 8 points and 9 rebounds per contest, shooting a combined 6-22. He is projected to get 16 points, 9 rebounds, and a block.
Derrick Favors is averaging 8.5 points, 9.0 rebounds, 1.5 steals and 2.5 blocks since being placed in the starting lineup. He sat out of practice this week due to lingering ankle and knee injuries, but is expected to play tonight. He’s projected to get 11 points, 9 rebounds, and 2 blocks.
The Kings will look to get their second win in a row after beating the Lakers 113-97 at home on Wednesday. They covered in the match as a 5.5-point underdog, and the 210 combined points moved the game OVER for bettors. Sacramento had six players in double-figures, led by Marcus Thornton’s 23 points in 28 minutes. AccuScore simulations project 15 points and at least 1 three-point make for Thornton.
While AccuScore projects 13 points, 4 rebounds, and 4 assists for Tyreke Evans tonight, it’s important to note he has historically played well against the Jazz. In nine games against them, Evans has averaged nearly 23 points per game (his best against any team). His career average is 13.0 points per game.
DeMarcus Cousins, who played only 21 minutes against the Lakers due to foul trouble, will have his hands full going up against a starting frontcourt of Al Jefferson, Derrick Favors and Paul Millsap. He’s had trouble staying out of foul trouble against the more physical frontcourts, and he’ll have his hands full tonight. Utah is third overall in rebounds per game and first in blocks per game. Cousins is projected to get 18 points, 9 rebounds, and a block.
The Kings are last in the league in field goal percentage, and Coach Keith Smart is hoping Jimmer Fredette can help some of the offensive struggles. Fredette is averaging fewer than nine minutes per game, but is shooting 64% from the field. He has knocked down five of the ten threes attempted this year. AccuScore simulations project six points (1 three-point basket) for Fredette.
Utah is at home and I’ll be shocked if they lose. I’m taking the Jazz, 98-90.
The two teams head to Sacramento tomorrow for a rematch.
All data provided by AccuScore.com