The NBA saga is heading toward the conclusion of the Regular Season and soon we will hit the Postseason. The Postseason is divided into two major phases, first, we have the Play-in tournament and the Playoffs. The Top Six teams from each Conference gain automatic qualification to the First Round of Playoffs whereas the seventh to tenth-ranked teams duke it out for the two remaining first-round spots in the Play-in tournament. Two such aspirants, the Utah Jazz, and the Portland Trail Blazers are going to clash here.
The Jazz comes into the fray after beating the Kings 128:120 as Ochai Agbaji had a startling 27 points outburst. The Jazz has won four of their last five games, the last two wins being against top-two-ranked squads in their respective Conferences. These solid wins have boosted their Play-in chances. The Jazz has reached 35 wins and 36 losses, and if they continue in a similar vein, their chances to the Play-in tournament are high as they get. Lauri Markkanen has kept them in the race for the tournament and has become perhaps the second-best scorer besides Giannis at the Power forward position.
Portland Trail Blazers
Portland enters the game after losing 102:119 against the Los Angeles Clippers. Their slide has been huge lately and the team has ended up losing six in a row and 14 of their last nineteen games. This has bitten the team a lot and they have been relegated to just 31 wins and the losses have swelled to 40. At this point, they are far removed from a Play-in spot and teams above their ranking have played at a high level. Damian Lillard has been an absolute superstar and has averaged over 30 points but that hasn’t been enough. Anfernee Simons’ injury has further derailed the campaign and Jerami Grant has lost the same chops he had at the beginning of the season as the injury bug has hit him too.
- Jazz: OUT: Jordan Clarkson, Collin Sexton. QUESTIONABLE: Lauri Markkanen;
- Trail Blazers: OUT: Ibou Badji, Justise Winslow, Jerami Grant. Game-Time Decision: Nasir Little.
Player Props Predictions
- Expected Leading Scorers: Damian Lillard(33+ Points), Lauri Markkanen(27+ Points);
- Expected Leading Rebounders: Walker Kessler(10+ Rebounds), Jusuf Nurkic(9-11 Rebounds);
- Expected Leading Playmakers: Damian Lillard(8-10 Assists), Talen Horton-Tucker(5-7 Assists).
Expert Betting Tips
The Trail Blazers will be without both Simons and Grant so once again, it will be left to Damian Lillard who has done this song and dance for so many years now. The Jazz has been rejuvenated thanks to their incredible batch of young players and Lauri Markkanen who has now shown his true value. That’s why it is natural to favor the Jazz here and I predict a scoreline of 126:110 in favor of Utah.