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Utah Jazz vs. Chicago Bulls

Utah Jazz (21-12) at Chicago Bulls (13-21)

NBA: Thursday, January 2nd, 2020 at 8:00 pm ET (United Center)

Line and Odds: Utah Jazz -3.5 Over/Under: 209.5

Free ESPN NBA Picks Chicago Bulls vs. Utah Jazz

Utah

The Utah Jazz are 12th in the NBA in net rating, outscoring opponents by an average of 2.2 points per 100 possessions. Utah scores 108.3 points per 100 possessions, which places them 18th in offensive rating. Usually, your effective field goal percentage rankings track closely with your offensive rating rankings. However, Utah’s shooting numbers are strong. The Jazz rank 6th in effective field goal percentage, shooting for an eFG% of 53.8%. They rank 21st in 2-point shooting percentage, hitting 51.0% of their 2-point shot attempts. Their 3-point shooting has been extraordinary, this season. They shoot a staggering 38.9% from beyond the arc, the best three-point percentage of any team in the NBA. Another positive aspect of their offense is their free throw production. Utah ranks 6th in the NBA in terms of free throws made per field goal attempt. So why is Utah’s offensive efficiency in the bottom half of the league? It is because they convert so few of their offensive possessions into shot attempts. Utah ranks 29th in field goal attempts per 100 possessions with 83.8. That number comes from their inability to take care of the basketball and rebound on the offensive end. They rank 28th in offensive turnover percentage (14.6%) and 29th in offensive rebound percentage (19.7%).

Utah allows 106.1 points per 100 possessions, which ranks them 10th in defensive rating. The Jazz have an elite defense from a shooting standpoint. They rank 4th in effective field goal defense, forcing their opponents to shoot an eFG% of 49.9%. Utah is 5th in 2-point percentage defense, allowing teams to shoot 49.1% from inside the 3-point line. Utah’s 3-point defense is of lesser quality, but it is still stingy. The Jazz defense ranks 10th in 3-point defense, allowing teams to shoot 34.2% from beyond the arc. Their defensive rebounding is also top 5 in the NBA. The Jazz grab 79.6% of the defensive rebounds available, ranking 3rd in defensive rebound percentage. The biggest flaw in the Jazz defense is their inability to take the ball away. The Utah Jazz rank 26th in defensive turnover percentage, forcing turnovers on 11.6% of their plays. C Rudy Gobert plays a key role in Utah’s defensive success. Gobert ranks 2nd in the NBA in rebounds per game with 14.2. He ranks 8th in blocks per game with 1.9. Analytically, Gobert ranks 4th in individual defensive rating, 3rd in defensive win shares, and 11th in defensive box plus/minus.

Chicago

The Chicago Bulls are 16th in net rating, getting outscored by 1.0 point per 100 possessions. Chicago is 29th in offensive rating, scoring 104.5 points per 100 possessions. The Bulls shoot for an effective field goal percentage of 50.1%, ranking 26th in eFG%. Their 2-point percentage has been the primary factor in dragging their eFG% down this season. They shoot 48.0% from inside the 2-point line, ranking 28th in 2-point percentage. To their credit, Chicago does shoot the 3-ball at a percentage that is closer to league average. The Bulls shoot 35.5% from the 3-point line, ranking 17th in 3-point shooting percentage. Not only does Chicago struggle with shooting, they also struggle in all aspects of offensive basketball. They rank 22nd in offensive turnover percentage, giving the ball away on 13.7% of their offensive plays. The Bulls rank 20th in offensive rebound percentage, grabbing 22.0% of the the offensive rebounds available to them. They average 16.2 made free throws per 100 possessions, a mark that ranks 23rd in the NBA. Aside from guard Zach LaVine, there isn’t a whole lot that this offense can count on.

Chicago is 7th in defensive rating, allowing 105.5 points per 100 possessions. The Bulls rank 15th in effective field goal defense, with opponents shooting an eFG% of 51.7%. They rank 22nd in 2-point shooting defense, allowing teams to shoot 52.9% from 2-point range. However, they rank 4th in 3-point percentage defense. Opponents shoot just 33.2% from 3-point land against the Bulls defense. What makes this defense so difficult to face is their ability to take the ball away. They force takeaways on 16.1% of their defensive plays, the best defensive turnover percentage in the NBA. The next closest mark belongs to the Lakers at 14.3%, so Chicago is way ahead of anyone else in this statistic. Because of their high turnover rate, their defense leads the NBA in fewest field goal attempts allowed per 100 possessions. Teams only put up 82.8 field goal attempts per 100 possessions against the Bulls defense. This makes it hard for opposing offenses to have a high offensive rating against them on a regular basis.

Cover The Spread 365 Betting Trends

Jazz

Utah is 4-0-1 ATS in their last 5 games.

The total has gone OVER in 13 of Utah’s last 19 games.

Utah is 8-1 SU in their last 9 games.

Bulls

Chicago is 11-4 ATS in their last 15 games.

The total has gone UNDER in 11 of Chicago’s last 14 games against Utah.

The total has gone UNDER in 8 of Chicago’s last 12 games at home.

ESPN NBA Scores Utah Jazz vs. Chicago Bulls

I’m taking the Bulls +3.5 in this matchup. The key to this game will be the lack of Utah’s offensive possessions that end with a field goal attempt. Utah is 29th in field goals attempted per 100 possessions. Chicago’s defense is 1st in fewest field goal attempts per 100 possessions. The Jazz are often sloppy with the basketball on the offensive end, and Chicago is, by far, the best at forcing turnovers on the defensive end. As strong as Utah’s reputation is for playing great defense, Chicago’s defense will actually be the superior one on the floor today. Offensively, Chicago struggles to shoot high percentages from 2-point land. However, I don’t expect them to try to force it inside with Rudy Gobert as Utah’s rim protector. Chicago will be a more 3-point heavy tonight, which will benefit them because they shoot the 3 at a more efficient clip than the 2-point shot. I’ll take the home underdog with the better defense plus the points.

Chicago Bulls +3.5

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