Devin Booker and the Suns battle the Utah Jazz Friday night for first in the West. (Photo by Brian Rothmuller/Icon Sportswire)
- First place in the West on the line as the Jazz visit the Suns
- Phoenix clinched its first playoff berth since 2010
- Get the latest Jazz vs Suns odds, betting preview and a pick below
The Phoenix Suns clinched their first playoff berth in 11 years with a win over the Clippers Wednesday night.
Next, how about top seed in the West? A win over the Utah Jazz Friday and they’ll have that entering the final month of the regular season.
What once seemed like a formality, Utah’s hold on first in the conference is the shakiest its been in months, particularly without all-star Donovan Mitchell, who will miss his seventh straight game as he battles an ankle injury.
Jazz vs Suns Odds
|Team||Spread at FanDuel||Moneyline||Total|
|Utah Jazz||+5 (-110)||+180||TBD|
|Phoenix Suns||-5 (-110)||-215||TBD|
Odds as of April 29. Tipoff is Friday at 10pm ET
Phoenix Flying High
Perhaps it’s fitting win that finally clinched a playoff berth for the Suns was closed by Chris Paul.
The all-star was unstoppable in the final frame of a Phoenix 109-101 win over the LA Clippers on Wednesday. Paul jarred 15 points on 5-for-8 shooting in the fourth quarter, part of a team-leading 28-point, 10-assist masterpiece to send the Suns to the postseason for the first time since 2010, when Steve Nash and Amare Stoudemire starred for the team.
Suns are officially back to the Playoffs for the first time since 2010. This team is for real.
Chris Paul is an mvp candidate: he scored 12 of Suns final 14 points and assisted for the other 2 in Suns 109-101 W over the Clippers. He finished w 28/10#NBA pic.twitter.com/YDXG4TCZeq
— Davide Chinellato (@dchinellato) April 29, 2021
With the Clippers within one point, Paul went vintage, hitting a 13-foot fadeaway, before converting a reverse layup and drilling a 17-footer to give them the breathing room they needed and close out with under four minutes to play.
I asked Devin Booker about another “that’s Chris Paul” night. He talked about watching CP3 with his dad and seeing that extra gear the Point God finds in the 2nd half: pic.twitter.com/Yog0AATSRm
— Kellan Olson (@KellanOlson) April 29, 2021
Devin Booker, who will make his playoff debut in his sixth season, had 21 points and six rebounds, while Cam Payne added 15 points, four rebounds and four assists off the bench.
A well-rounded group, the Suns are in the top 10 in every major offensive category, and they also boast the fifth-best defensive rating in the NBA. They hold teams to just 108.3 a night, which is ranks sixth overall.
Jazz Need Fine Tuning
Perhaps it’s as simple as Donovan Mitchell getting back to the lineup for Utah. Despite the fact things look all right after a 154-105 demolition of the Sacramento Kings Wednesday night, they only cover some of the shortcomings in the six games he’s been out.
A new franchise record for the @utahjazz with 154 points.
The previous high was 153 by the New Orleans Jazz on Apr 9, 1978 against the San Antonio Spurs. #takenote pic.twitter.com/7WLXJ05nEZ
— Ben Anderson (@BensHoops) April 29, 2021
Some of the problems are obvious: the Jazz lost to the Lakers minus LeBron and AD, and they lost both ends of a mini-set with the Minnesota Timberwolves — a team so bad that it’s one of two West teams that was eliminated from playoff contention weeks ago.
Take away that Kings win, and you’ll see the Jazz are struggling to do anything without their top shot creator. They are averaging just 107.6 points a game, nearly 10 points below their fourth-best scoring clip of 116.9 points per game.
Status note: Donovan Mitchell (ankle) to miss at least another week.
— FantasyLabs NBA (@FantasyLabsNBA) April 24, 2021
They’ve also increased their three-point shooting by nearly five more attempts per game on their league-leading 43.5 average, and they’re making about eight fewer trips to the free-throw line per game, settling in at under 14 attempts a night.
Defensively, they’re still a beast, tied for third in scoring, holding teams to 107.2 points a night, while ranking second in both field goal (44.5%) and three-point (34%) shooting defense.
Perhaps that SacTo win helped wake up struggling super sub Jordan Clarkson. He had 23 points on 8-for-14 from the field, including 4-for-7 from downtown. He had gone three straight games shooting under 39% from the field, while connecting on just 8-for-29 from distance, a flimsy 27.5% clip.
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What’s the Best Bet?
This game has huge stakes for Utah. Having already lost the season series, another L would essentially give the Suns a one-game lead over the Jazz with identical records. I don’t think Phoenix falls into complacency, even if they have their playoff berth locked. They’re also looking for their 12th win in 13 home games.
The total hasn’t been set yet, but if the figure stays under 226, don’t be afraid to double-dip in this one. This is going to have heavy playoff feel to it, with two teams digging in defensively. Look for Booker and Paul to close this one out, and Utah not having enough offensive creation to match.
The pick: Suns -5 (-110)
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Having worked in and around sports since 1997, Eric is truly a knowledgeable expert. The two-time journalism grad specializes in all things NBA and NFL. From TSN.ca to CTV’s Olympic Broadcast Consortium, Eric’s work has appeared in local and national publications alike.