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The Utah Jazz (22-20) will look to continue their mid-season turnaround when they meet the Western Conference’s second-place team, the Oklahoma City Thunder (27-13), on Thursday night.
Despite being just two games over .500, the Jazz are 15-5 at home and won 12 of their last 14 games. Meanwhile, the Thunder are coming off back-to-back losses to the Los Angeles teams and are hoping to avoid their first three-game slide of the campaign.
Here, we will go over the betting odds and share our favorite picks for the Thunder vs. Jazz showdown on Thursday.
The visiting Thunder are favored by 3.5 points. They beat the Jazz 134-120 in Oklahoma City in December, shortly before Utah turned its season around.
|Oklahoma City Thunder
|Over 246.5 (-110)
|Under 246.5 (-110)
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The Thunder might be the second-youngest team in the NBA, but they’re already one of the best teams in the NBA. They rank in the top six in both offensive and defensive ratings and are second in overall net rating.
Despite having MVP candidate Shai Gilgeous-Alexander and Rookie of the Year contender Chet Holmgren leading their line, the Thunder aren’t reliant on their starters. They rank second in bench net rating thanks to key reserves such as Isaiah Joe, rookie Cason Wallace, and more.
Again, despite their youth, there’s maturity in the way the Thunder play. They turn the ball over at the second-lowest frequency and are sixth in net rating during clutch time, outranking teams such as the Denver Nuggets and Minnesota Timberwolves.
In many ways, the modern NBA is all about three-point dominance. OKC ranks second in three-point percentage (39.1) and 10th in three-point percentage allowed (35.7), giving them a distinct advantage most times they take the court.
The Thunder aren’t reliant on their success on the perimeter, however. Gilgeous-Alexander leads the NBA in drives per game, which has helped his team rank first in points off turnovers, third in points in the paint, and sixth in fastbreak points.
They also make free throws at the highest clip in the league (83.9%) and hold teams to the second-worst field goal percentage in the league.
The only area that the Thunder struggle in is rebounding. They’re relatively undersized and are just 28th in rebound percentage and dead last in offensive rebounds per game.
Meanwhile, the Jazz are just 21st in net rating for the season but fifth over the last 15 games (OKC is third). Their offense is clicking and their defense is significantly improved compared to where it started the year.
One of the catalysts in Utah’s surge is 25-year-old Collin Sexton. After starting the year further down the rotation, he raised his scoring average to 21.1 points per game in December and is at 20.7 in January.
Will Hardy also changed his rotations and has found a groove starting Kris Dunn and bringing Jordan Clarkson and Keyonte George off the bench. Dunn, a former top-five pick, doesn’t offer much on offense but has a 113.9 defensive rating, better than Utah’s average of 116.4.
The Jazz are shooting the ball better than they did earlier in the year and have remained dominant on the glass, grabbing the third-most offensive rebounds per game and ranking second in rebound percentage. They don’t get many transition points, but they’re third in second-chance points and eighth in points in the paint.
While OKC has the second-best road net rating (+11.1), Utah is seventh in home net rating (+7.8). They also beat the Denver Nuggets, Milwaukee Bucks, and Philadelphia 76ers all within the last couple of weeks and will be prepared for the challenge on Thursday.
On one hand, the Jazz are red-hot and one of the best home teams in the league. But on the other, OKC’s “average” is still better than Utah’s recent form, and they’re one of the best road teams (Despite being only 11-8 away from home).
Utah’s interior presence is going to be put to the test by the active hands and defensive intelligence of the Thunder players, particularly Holmgren. His ability to command the paint and end trips in one shot will be key for OKC.
While the Jazz are certainly a team to watch, we’re backing the Thunder to get back on track. Gilgeous-Alexander uncharacteristically only averaged 21.5 points on 42.9% field goal shooting in the team’s recent losses, and a return to MVP-level form should be enough to power OKC to a win.
Thunder vs. Jazz pick: Thunder -3.5 at BetMGM
When: Thursday, Jan. 18 @ 7:00/9:00 p.m. MT/ET
Where: Delta Center, Salt Lake City, UT
TV: NBA League Pass
Grant is a sports and sports betting journalist who prides himself on delivering breaking news and insightful analyses of the industry. Grant graduated from Virginia Tech in 2021 and is feverishly pursuing his ambitions in the sports betting field.
In his free time, Grant can be found passionately watching sports, doing a workout, or searching for adventure with his friends.More info on Grant Mitchell
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