The daily preview muscles into the paint with NBA tips for juicy Western Conference duel between Utah Jazz and Portland Trail Blazers.
11:30 (AEST), Thu 13th May @ Vivint Smart Home Arena, Salt Lake City
History: Played 225: Jazz 118 V 107
Last meeting: April 8, 2021: Jazz 112 d Trail Blazers 103 at Vivint Smart Home Arena
Final Thoughts: Utah Jazz are aiming to cement the top seed in the Western Conference, while Portland Trail Blazers have their nose in front in the fight to avoid the play-in tournament.
The 50-19 Jazz opened up a gap between themselves and the stumbling second-placed Suns with five straight wins to start May off. But Utah are coming off a 119-116 upset loss to Golden State in San Francisco.
Jordan Clarkson went off for 41 points and 7 rebounds from the bench, while Bojan Bogdanovic put up 27 points – but it wasn’t enough to run down the Steph Curry-led Warriors after they fell behind by 14 at three-quarter time.
Bogdanovic has responded to the extended absence of Donovan Mitchell and Mike Conley impressively. Clarkson shapes as a Sixth Man of the Year contender and a key playoffs piece.
The 40-29 Trail Blazers have moved up to fifth thanks to eight wins from their last nine games. They are on a four-game tear, strong wins over playoffs contenders the Lakers and Spurs with points feasts against the battling Cavs and Rockets.
Sharpshooter Damian Lillard has posted 30-plus points in five straight games, including 34 points, 9 rebounds and 6 assists in Portland’s 140-129 defeat of Houston. ‘Dame’s’ surge has sounding a warning to the rest of the West contenders.
The Jazz have won four of their last five against the Blazers, including a pair of resounding victories this season.
Rudy Gobert led the way in a 120-100 success in Portland in December. The Jazz big man was no less influential in a 122-103 home win last month – putting up 18 points and 20 rebounds – while Donovan Mitchell scored 37 points.
The Jazz boast an eye-watering 31-4 home record (23-12 against the line); they won their last five at home by an average margin of 12.4 points. The Blazers are an impressive 21-13 on the road – overall and ATS – and have won five of their last six away from Portland.
Utah have the NBA’s best record for a reason, but Portland are steaming on the back of Lillard’s hot form and they are more than capable of snaring a big scalp.
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