No. 1 Utah Jazz vs. No. 8 Memphis Grizzlies Betting Preview
Line: Utah -9
Where: Vivint Smart Home Arena
When: Sunday, 5/23 at 9:30 p.m. ET
While Utah might not have any experience making a deep playoff run in recent years, it enters the 2021 postseason as the top seed in the Western Conference.
The Jazz will be looking to make a deep run this year, which will have to start with a first-round series win over Memphis. They have won their last six games in the head-to-head series.
Memphis needed to win a pair of play-in tournament games to advance to the first round. The Grizzlies picked up a 100-96 win over San Antonio at home and then pulled off an upset over Golden State as 4.5-point underdogs on Friday night.
Utah opened as an 8.5-point favorite in Game 1, taking a slight bit of juice in the early betting action. The total opened at 215.5 and has ticked up to 216 as of Saturday evening.
The Jazz are heavy -1300 favorites to win the series and have the fourth-shortest NBA Finals odds at 7/1. Memphis is available at 8/1 to win four games and upset the Jazz—it is 260/1 to win the title.
Despite the long odds, the young Grizzlies will enter the first round with plenty of confidence after getting past Golden State in an overtime thriller. Star point guard Ja Morant poured in 35 points and provides a challenge to any opposing defense.
He paces a Memphis offense that ranks No. 15 in the NBA with 113.3 points per game. This is going to be a different task than the play-in tournament, though. Utah ranks third defensively, allowing just 107.2 points per contest.
The Jazz are led by forward Rudy Gobert, who won consecutive Defensive Player of the Year awards in 2018 and 2019. He is the odds-on favorite to win the award again this season. Gobert averages 14.3 points and 13.5 rebounds.
Shooting guard Donovan Mitchell is the heart of the team. He scores 26.4 points and dishes out 5.2 assists. Utah is not only strong defensively, but it ranks fourth in the NBA with 116.4 points per game.
Point guard Jordan Clarkson is favored to win the Sixth Man of the Year award and is the team’s second-leading scorer with 18.4 points. Small forward Bojan Bogdanovic is healthy this postseason and is adding 17.0 points per game.
One of the most intriguing headlines going into this series is Mike Conley, who is probably the best point guard in Memphis history. Now, he is with Utah and is coming off one of his best seasons (16 PPG).
The Grizzlies will be hoping for continued minutes from Jaren Jackson Jr., who only played 15 minutes on Friday. He played just the final 11 regular season games following his off-season knee surgery. With Memphis focusing on Jackson’s long-term health, Jonas Valanciunas is going to need to make Gobert work in the paint.
Utah has been nearly untouchable at home, going 17-3 in its last 20 games. Memphis has been covering at a high rate on the road, though, cashing tickets in 12 of its last 18 away from home. The total has gone ‘over’ in the Grizzlies’ last five games at Utah.
The pick: Utah -9
The only way I see this game staying close is if Memphis uses its momentum to jump out to an early lead. Utah is not only more talented, but it is significantly deeper and more efficient. The Jazz have also been fantastic at home and should be able to pull away against a fatigued Memphis team. They are healthy and rested coming into this series—head coach Quin Snyder should have his guys well prepared. Utah understands how difficult it will be to put a deep run together, so putting Memphis away quickly is going to be a priority. The Jazz have more room for error (foul trouble, poor shooting) due to their depth.