Game Preview: Utah Jazz at Sacramento Kings

The Utah Jazz (7-6) overcame a 13-point fourth quarter deficit last night to beat the Sacramento Kings (3-9) 104-102. Gordon Hayward nailed a 22-foot game winner following a Sacramento turnover. AccuScore predicted a score of 102-95 for last night’s game. The data suggested taking the Kings and the points last night, and that’s exactly what the right decision ended up being. If you were just looking at the money lines, AccuScore data predicted 75 percent of the time that Utah would be the right choice. The two teams get to do it all over again tonight, this time in Sacramento. We’ll most likely get another close game and it’ll come down to if Utah can pick up their ever-so-unpopular level of play on the road.
 
AccuScore simulated the game 10,000 times and the Kings won 52.3 percent of the time. The average score in those simulations was 100-99.9, in favor of Sacramento. At the time of publication, the Jazz are 1.5 point favorites. The Jazz covered that spread in just 43.6 percent of the simulations; taking the Kings and the points, however, was successful in 56.3 percent of the simulations.
 
While the total is predicted to go OVER 195 nearly 58 percent of the time, here’s one thing to note: The total has gone UNDER in 5 of Utah’s last 6 games when playing Sacramento. Both teams have similar probabilities of getting either a close (4 points or less) or big (10 points or more) win. Both teams have approximately a 12.5 percent of getting a close win, and both teams have approximately a 22.5 percent chance of getting a big win. Just to clarify, that means in 12.5 percent of the 52.3 percent of games the Kings won in the simulations, they won by four points or less.
 
The Jazz improved to 5-0 at home last night, and it’s no surprise that their struggles are always on the road. Last year (in the shortened season), the Jazz went 10-12 on back-to-backs, including one B2B2B. Coach Corbin’s recent change to the starting lineup has helped guys like Derrick Favors, Marvin Williams, and Gordon Hayward be more effective. Williams scored 20 points on 6-of-12 shooting. Derrick Favors, meanwhile, scored 16 points and grabbed 13 rebounds.
 
Hayward, who led the team in scoring last night with 23 points, is projected to get 15 points on 5-11 shooting. Favors, who had 9 offensive rebounds last night, is projected to get 13 points and 8 rebounds (3 being offensive). Sacramento’s guards were taking over in last night’s game, but it was Favors’ activity all night that led to extra possessions. Especially in a game decided by a basket, the importance of someone like Favors skyrockets.
 
The simulations project 18 points, 10 rebounds for Al Jefferson, and 16 points, 8 rebounds for Paul Millsap. The Jazz outrebounded the Kings last night 43-31; while the data still projects the Jazz winning the rebounding battle, it’s by a much smaller margin (43-40).
 
Jamaal Tinsley played some big minutes (31) last night, and was a +18 while on the floor. While he probably won’t get another 12 assists, AccuScore simulations project him to get 6 tonight.

Tyreke Evans continued his above-average play against the Jazz last night, finishing with 19 points, 5 assists, and 2 steals. I was initially

surprised when I saw AccuScore projecting him to get just 14 points and 4 assists tonight; I then saw they’re expecting DeMarcus Cousins to make a bit more of an impact. Cousins, who had 14 points and 7 rebounds last night, is projected to get 18 points, 9 rebounds, a steal and a block tonight.

Aaron Brooks scored a season-high 17 points on 7-of-9 shooting from the field. He’s projected to get just 7 points and 2 assists tonight, but that’s most likely because he was recently inserted into the starting lineup. The simulations haven’t taken full account of Brooks’ impact on the starting lineup  and as a result, is low-balling what he’ll do on the court. He, along with Marcus Thornton and Jimmer Fredette each, had three threes last night. The Kings are at home, and I’d expect those long jumpers to continue falling tonight.

Thornton is projected to get 16 points tonight (2-5 from the three-point line). Fredette, who had 10 points (3-4 threes) in 17 minutes last night, is projected to get 6 points tonight.

The Jazz had a huge advantage last night in fast break points (31-11). Can’t expect something that lopsided again, especially since t
he game is in Sacramento tonight.

If I were to bet on this game, I’d take Sacramento and the points (and pray that Utah gets a one-point win). We know Utah is the better team, but it’s still early in the season and I don’t trust them on the road yet. The fan in me, however, thinks Utah wins again tonight. 103-97.