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Golden State Warriors vs. Utah Jazz Series Betting Preview
The Warriors will advance in five games against the Jazz
By Dan Favale
It's tough to tell what's more surprising: That a 51-win team is such a ridiculous underdog, or that the favorite is being favored by this much in the first place.
The Golden State Warriors are not going to lose to the Utah Jazz. Let's get that out of the way now. The Warriors are a well-oiled machine. They were missing head coach Steve Kerr and Kevin Durant at various points during their first-round matchup with the Portland Trail Blazers, and yet they still waltzed their way to a 4-0 series sweep.
Kerr isn't expected back in time to coach this series, and that matters to some degree. Mike Brown has taken the reins in his place, and it's unclear how he'll handle tweaking lineups and rotations if the Warriors ever find themselves facing a stretch's worth of adversity.
That's assuming they even incur that much turmoil before the Western Conference Finals, or the NBA Finals, or at all.
With all due respect to the Jazz, they don't come close to measuring up against the Warriors. There is value in the way they play, make no mistake. They can catch the Warriors off guard at certain stages by playing physical half-court basketball that emphasizes precision and rebounding and general brutality over everything else. That might be enough to get them a game. Who knows, maybe it gets them two.
But in today's NBA, faster teams tend to dictate pace and terms. Look no further than how much the San Antonio Spurs have struggled in recent years against more explosive teams. The Jazz are cut from a similar cloth. They ranked dead last in possessions used per 48 minutes during the regular season, and they're using about two fewer sets per 48 minutes in the playoffs. The Warriors, meanwhile, placed fourth in pace before the playoffs and are, by far, one of the two fastest teams for the postseason.
Now consider the kinds of shots the Warriors are taking amid this speed. They do a nice job getting to the rim when they want, but they're running up and down the floor with the intention to fire away from beyond the arc. They are making 12.5 threes per game in the playoffs—nearly three more than the Jazz.
That's nearly a nine-point gap every night, and the difference may be even starker in this series because of how slow the Jazz will try to play.
Short of tapping into some new-found speedballing sets we didn't know they were practicing, the Jazz have neither the depth nor star power nor stylistic experience to effectively combat the Warriors.
The Pick: Golden State Warriors (-4000) in five games
Bonus Prop Bet Analysis
Discouraged by the disparate nature of these odds? You're not alone. But there is a potential way around it: by betting series outcomes and length.
Two scenarios stand out for this best-of-seven set. First up is picking the Warriors to sweep. They are a +135 to win four consecutive games over the Jazz, according to BetOnline Sportsbook—not great, but still worlds better than the overall series wager at +4000.
Second, and perhaps equally important, is picking the Warriors to win in six. Here, you're actually betting against the Warriors, in the sense you want them to lose two games when many people doubt they'll lose even one.
It's a risky bet, and you won't want to pour your entire purse into it. But the Jazz are a +3300 to go down in six games. While it's again unlikely they make it that far, they do have the defense to make things interesting. Get hot for long enough from beyond the arc, and they could feasibly get there. It's not a bad idea to lay low-ball money on such an outcome.
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