UTAH JAZZ (33-31)
at OKLAHOMA CITY THUNDER (47-17)
Tip-off: Wednesday, 8:05 p.m. ET
Line: Oklahoma City -13, Total: 204
The struggling Jazz are hoping the Thunder are still reeling from a Monday's big loss when they visit the Midwest on Wednesday night.
Utah beat Detroit 103-90 in its last game on Monday, but the team is 2-7 SU (4-5 ATS) in its past nine games, including five straight road defeats. Trying to end this slide won't be easy against an Oklahoma City squad that is not only stewing after a 12-point loss in San Antonio two nights ago, but is 28-4 SU (23-9 ATS) in its home building where it scores 109.3 PPG on 50% FG this season. The Jazz are just 10-23 SU (12-20-1 ATS) on the road this season, but they did crush the Thunder 109-94 when these teams last met on Feb. 12 in Salt Lake City. And considering Oklahoma City will be playing its fifth game in the past seven days, tired legs could factor significantly into the outcome. Another big factor for Tuesday's game is that Jazz PF Paul Millsap (15.2 PPG, 7.4 RPG), who has missed the past two games with a knee injury, will be a game-time decision.
Can the Thunder bounce back from their loss with a lopsided win of their own on Tuesday? For the answer, connect to NBA Best Bets for all the Expert picks throughout the entire 2012-13 season. All four experts remain red-hot in NBA Best Bets. StatFox Gary is 72% ATS (13-5) in March and 72% ATS (21-8) since Feb. 20, StatFox Brian is 61% ATS in March (11-7), including 62% ATS (8-5) since March 4, StatFox Scott is 58% ATS (35-25) since Feb. 3 and StatFox Dave is 57% ATS (8-6) since March 2. Since February began, the experts are a collective 56.2% ATS (131-102). Scott is now 55% ATS (105-86-1) for the season, while Gary is 54% ATS (84-72-4). For NBA Totals, Gary is a perfect 6-0 since March 7, while Scott is 58% (11-8-1) since Feb. 22 to raise his season record to 56% (87-69-1) in Totals.
Utah's defense is the biggest reason for its poor road record, as the team allows 102.0 PPG on 48% FG away from home this season. However, the Jazz are able to stay in games due to a slightly above-average offense that scores 98.4 PPG (13th in NBA) on 45.1% FG (14th in league) and 35.9% threes (14th in NBA). The strength of this team is down low, where it ranks 10th in rebounding margin (+1.6 RPG) and fifth in blocks (6.5 BPG). With Millsap injured, C Al Jefferson (17.6 PPG, 9.2 RPG) hasn't been able to score as much, averaging a mere 11.5 PPG on 10-of-24 FG (42%) in two games with Millsap on the sidelines. Jefferson has been strong against the Thunder this season though, averaging 19.5 PPG and 9.0 RPG in the two meetings. PG Mo Williams (12.4 PPG, 6.4 APG) missed 10 weeks with a thumb injury, but after struggling in his first three games back (6.0 PPG on 26% FG), he exploded in Monday's win with 20 points (9-of-14 FG) and six assists. Williams had 13 points and six assists in his one meeting with Oklahoma City this season. SG Gordon Hayward (14.0 PPG, 3.0 RPG) was limited to 13 points on 6-of-18 FG (1-of-6 threes) in his one game versus Oklahoma City this season, and has just 10.3 PPG on 9-of-22 FG (41%) in his past three contests. SG Randy Foye (10.9 PPG) has been even colder recently with 3.8 PPG on 19% FG (7-of-36 FG) over his past five games, being shut out of two of those five contests. PF Derrick Favors (9.5 PPG, 6.7 RPG) has started in place of the injured Millsap in the past two games, but has just 5.0 PPG (4-for-10 FG) and 6.5 RPG to show for it. But in his previous three contests, Favors averaged 13.3 PPG and 12.3 RPG, so maybe a move out of the starting lineup will get him going.
Oklahoma City's offense has been outstanding all season with 106.5 PPG (2nd in NBA) on 48.2% FG (3rd in league) and 39.0% threes (2nd in NBA). They are also tough to score on, holding teams to the second-lowest shooting percentage in the NBA (42.9%) thanks to a league-best 7.5 BPG. SF Kevin Durant (28.4 PPG, 7.9 RPG, 4.7 APG) continues to leads the league in scoring, but has shown off all facets of his game, posting 26.2 PPG, 9.5 RPG, 5.9 APG and 1.3 BPG in his past 13 contests. This run started with 33 points (11-of-16 FG), six boards and five assists in the loss at Utah on Feb. 12. PG Russell Westbrook (23.3 PPG, 7.6 APG, 5.2 RPG) has always put up strong numbers against the Jazz in his career with 21.9 PPG (52% FG, 50% threes), 5.6 APG and 4.2 RPG. This season, he has 22.5 PPG (5-of-8 threes), 8.0 RPG, 6.5 APG and 3.5 SPG versus Utah, but has also committed 15 turnovers in the two meetings. The team's third-highest scorer, SG Kevin Martin (14.3 PPG), has also been slumping offensively with 10.1 PPG on 36% FG over his past nine games, failing to reach 17 points in any of these nine contests. He has just 12.5 PPG versus Utah this season, but has made 10-of-20 FG in the series. PF Serge Ibaka (13.4 PPG, 7.9 RPG) hasn't missed much against the Jazz in his career, scoring 10.6 PPG on 63% FG, while contributing major defensive numbers too (7.4 RPG and 3.3 BPG). He's also been on the mark over his past nine games with 13.9 PPG on 64.2% FG, while pulling down 8.1 RPG and blocking 2.8 shots per contest. Ibaka's 2.94 BPG constitute the second-most swats in the NBA this season.