With the Lakers breathing down their necks, the Utah Jazz could really use a few solid wins to strengthen their grip on eighth spot in the NBA’s Western Conference. But with three defeats in succession, their play-off spot looks ever more precarious as they head to Madison Square Garden on Saturday to face the New York Knicks.
It’s been a case of so near but so far for the Jazz, who lost their last three by a combined total of five points. And it’s not going to get any easier, with five of their next eight games on the road, where they’re only 10-22 this season. Their Achilles heel has been stopping three-pointers, allowing opponents to shoot almost 42% - a trait that the long rangers of New York will have noticed.
What they do have, however, is size inside, which might make it harder for Amare Stoudemire to continue to help out if Carmelo Anthony is sidelined once again. The All Star will be a game-time decision and if he sits, the Jazz are worth a look on the handicap.
At one stage this season, the Washington Wizards looked a certainty to end up with the league’s worst record. With a 19-41 mark, they’re no superpower but the Wiz are monsters compared to the sorry Charlotte Bobcats, whose latest losing streak stands at nine games.
Two of their 13 wins this season have come against Washington but they’ve gone 6-44 since these two last met. John Wall missed both previous meetings due to injury, and although he’s yet to regain his past form, back him and the Wizards to come up on top, even on a handicap of -11 at 1.91.
Best bet: Take Utah on the handicap over New York