Today's Free Picks for
Game 1 - posted at 12:15 PM EST.
6:30 PM EST. Now that he has averaged a triple-double for the second straight season, we're not sure what Russell Westbrook has to play for now that he's no longer getting paid to pad his personal stats. The Thunder have been a mess all season with the acquisitions of Carmelo Anthony and Paul George failing fairly spectacularly. OKC's "Big Three" can talk all they want about coming together as a team late in the season, but there will never be enough touches for everyone as long as Westbrook is running the offense. George shot a brutal 38.5% from the field after the All-Star break, which gives the reigning MVP Westbrook all he needs to justify taking it to the rim by himself all night long. The Thunder hold a 3-1 advantage over Utah in the season series, but all of those games were played before Christmas, well before the Jazz caught fire.
The Jazz are the epitome of a team getting hot at the "right time" after a sizzling final two months of the season. Utah's run down the stretch had much to do with the return of center Rudy Gobert, who averaged 16.6 points, 12.7 and 2.3 blocks per game in March, while shooting an impressive 68.2%. The Jazz won 29-of-35 games to end the season with rookie guard Donovan Mitchell averaging 20.5 points per game along the way. In any other class, Mitchell would be highly considered for Rookie of the Year, but the Ben Simmons show has taken over in Philadelphia. Ricky Rubio is also set to make his first appearance in the playoffs and had a hot hand shooting 40.9% from three-point range in the Jazz's final 23 games of the season. While there is value in the Jazz at +115 to win this series, we're going to use that very telling price and take back a much larger number on the money line today. A split is quite likely and if it doesn't come this evening, we will gladly re-up on the Jazz and take back an inflated series price before Game 2.
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Utah +163 (Risking 2 units - To Win: 3.26)