Following an impressive Wednesday night win over the Clippers that gave the Suns some breathing room in the Pacific, Chris Paul and his teammates take aim at catching Utah for the top seed in the Western Conference.
The Jazz have been sitting pretty atop the West for most of the season and have racked up the highest margin of victory of any team in the NBA this season, defeating teams by 9.7 points per game behind a West-leading 116.9 points per game. Only Milwaukee and Brooklyn are averaging more.
Jazz at Suns picks and predictions will hinge on whether bettors believe Utah can hold off Phoenix on the road without star guard Donovan Mitchell, who remains out with an ankle injury. Utah set a franchise record with 154 points against Sacramento on Wednesday night despite the absence of Mitchell and starting point guard Mike Conley, who aggravated a hamstring injury and is unlikely to suit up for this one.
- Phoenix Suns vs. Utah Jazz
- Time/Venue: 10:10 p.m. ET, Phoenix Suns Arena
- TV: Bally’s Sports Arizona
Utah Comes Off Record-Setting Night
The Jazz connected on 24 3-pointers and led 116-74 entering the fourth quarter on the road in Sacramento. Although the Kings were missing top guard De’Aaron Fox, the fact Utah was without its starting backcourt made it all the more embarrassing. Reserves like Matt Thomas joined the party late and piled on, as ultimately eight Jazz players scored in double-figures.
Georges Niang joined the starting lineup and shot it well up front while Joe Ingles helped facilitate offense, but Quin Snyder essentially relied on position-less basketball to secure his team’s 45th victory of the season. Bojan Bogdanovic and Rudy Gobert both remain in their customary roles, while key glue guy Royce O’Neale continues to do whatever is asked of him, which usually includes defending the opposition’s top wing. Count on O’Neale seeing plenty of Devin Booker here.
Jordan Clarkson is the runaway leader for Sixth Man of the Year and scored 23 points against the Kings, so you can expect he’ll play a major role without Mitchell and Conley available. With Ingles keeping the ball moving and Bogdanovic in the mix, look for small ball to be Utah’s weapon in attempting to pick up an upset win in the Valley.
Gobert and Derrick Favors will handle business in the post as they tangle with Deandre Ayton, who has had success in averaging 11.0 points and 10.5 rebounds in a pair of wins over Utah already this season.
The Jazz have failed to defeat Phoenix in two previous matchups, falling 106-95 on Dec. 31 and most recently, losing 117-113 in this same venue on April 7. Mitchell scored 41 points in just under 41 minutes in contest that wasn’t decided until overtime.
Six ties and 11 lead changes highlighted the extremely competitive contest that Booker ultimately helped swing with his 35 points. Phoenix out-rebounded the Jazz 61-45, so the battle of the boards should be a major point of emphasis in this contest.
Surging Suns Snap Lengthy Playoff Drought
An impressive victory over the Clippers on Wednesday helped Phoenix clinch its first playoff appearance since 2010. The Suns are three wins shy of matching the most single-season victories they’ve managed over the past decade, cementing a terrific run thanks to Paul’s arrival and the maturation of young standouts like Booker, Ayton and Mikal Bridges.
Paul finished with 28 points and 10 assists in helping take down L.A. as a 4.5-point favorite. Following this key clash, the Suns will open May with a three-game road trip featuring stops in Oklahoma City, Cleveland and Atlanta, so their schedule is certainly manageable over the next few weeks. Considering Utah is short-handed and wrapping up a stint of six road games in seven contests that featured losses to the Lakers and a pair of puzzling defeats against the Timberwolves, this is a great spot at home for the healthier group.
Head coach Monty Williams called locking in a playoff spot an important step for the organization and proof that a winning culture has finally been established. Paul scored 25 second-half points to fuel the win over the Clippers, who had pulled even with the Suns in the win column prior to being bested and are now two games behind in the Pacific Division.
Although there is still a cap on how many fans are allowed to attend games in Phoenix, a crowd of 5,917 was deemed the loudest of the season and should continue to play a role in a huge game here.
Jazz at Suns picks and predictions will hinge on how effective Phoenix can continue to be in defending the perimeter. Utah ranks third in defensive rating and offensive rating, while Phoenix is fifth in defensive rating and fifth in 3-point percentage defense (35.2%), so they’ll be looking to cool off that sizzling Jazz offense that cracked the 150-point mark with relative ease on Wednesday.
Sports Betting Line Analysis
Early lines have not officially been released for this game, but the Suns are likely to be favored at home after holding serve in a favorite’s role against the Clippers, covering 4.5 points in a 109-101 win. Phoenix is 7-2 straight up in its last nine contests as a favorite but is just 4-4-1 ATS in a favorite’s role.
Utah has only been an underdog once since Jan. 8, closing as a 1.5-point ‘dog on April 17 against the Lakers in a game they lost 127-115. In all, the Jazz are 2-1 straight up and against the spread as an underdog this season. The ‘under’ has prevailed in four of the last five Jazz games and is 1-1 through the first two matchups between these teams. The high side is on 4-2 run in Suns games.
Injuries/Rotational Adjustments To Watch
The Suns have been without two of their most productive forwards with Jae Crowder and Dario Saric each dealing with ankle injuries. Crowder is an excellent defender and would be missed on the wing against a Jazz team that shoots the ball so well. Torrey Craig and Cameron Johnson have been playing increased minutes with Crowder and Saric sidelined. Both forwards are listed as questionable here.
Utah is likely going to be without Mitchell and Conley, although a determination hasn’t been made on the point guard’s availability. Mitchell’s return is close, but the Jazz are going to be extremely cautious with their young All-Star to ensure he’ll be durable come postseason.
Jazz At Suns Handicapping Notes and Pick
Both of these teams have gotten the job done despite being shorthanded, but Phoenix is in better shape at the moment. Coming off a brilliant effort against the Clippers in the second half also has them better prepared for this one than the Jazz have been of late in scuffling against Minnesota and obliterating Sacramento. Lay the points at home with Phoenix to wrap up a 3-0 season sweep of Utah.