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Our expert hoops handicapper has given us access to his exclusive NBA picks

Last night we saw the Clippers underline why they are championship favorites but what do we have in store tonight?

Today's NBA pick:

Utah Jazz @ Los Angeles Lakers (-3.5), ESPN, 10:30 PM ET:

The Utah Jazz and Los Angeles Lakers will square off on Friday night in a showdown between two of the better teams in the Western Conference.

First, the Jazz are coming off a terrific win in their season opener.

Behind 32 points and 12 rebounds from superstar Donovan Mitchell, the Jazz pulled away to a 100-95 victory over the new-look Oklahoma City Thunder on Wednesday night at the Vivint Smart Home Arena in Salt Lake City.

Despite the win, Utah’s newly-acquired point guard Mike Conley had a debut that he’d probably like to forget. The former Memphis Grizzlies star shot 1 for 16 from the field, which included a 0 for 6 output from beyond the arc, and he hit 3 of 4 free throws from the charity stripe.

If the Jazz are going to be a true Western Conference juggernaut, they will most certainly need better nightly outputs from their point guard.

Center Rudy Gobert contributed seven points and 14 rebounds, Bojan Bogdanovic added 16 points and three boards, and Royce O’Neale chipped in 14 points and five rebounds for the Jazz. Emmanuel Mudiay, Utah’s backup point guard, had an efficient night off the bench when he finished with 12 points on 6 of 11 shooting, to go along with five assists.

The Los Angeles Lakers, on the other hand, will look to bounce back after a disappointing season-opening loss to its in-town rival the Los Angeles Clippers.

Danny Green finished with a team-high 28 points, which included a 7 of 9 performance from 3-point land, forward Anthony Davis added 25 points, nine rebounds, five assists and two blocks, but LeBron James’ 18-point output on only 7 of 19 shooting from the field, including 1 of 5 from beyond the arc, seemed to be the difference for the Lakers in a 112-102 loss to Kawhi Leonard and the Clippers.

I think a lot of NBA fans across the country are high on the Lakers this season simply because they have James and Davis, but unfortunately for them, that’s exactly where it ends. You’re talking about James who is a 34-year-old nearing the end of his career, and an injury-prone forward in Davis leading your team. Relying on these two players as the focal point is no good, especially with a weak bench, no true point guard, and an overall lackluster roster.

I’m not buying the Lakers this year. I picked the Clippers +3.5 points in the season opener, and I hit, and now I’m taking the Utah Jazz plus the 3.5 points, and I once against expect to hit on this one.

The Jazz are well-coached, they play great defense, they have a superstar talent in Donovan Mitchell, and they have an overall sound roster that I expect to compete in the Western Conference this upcoming season.

I expect this to be a close basketball game, and I truly believe that Jazz have a chance to take down the Lakers in Los Angeles on Friday night.

Take Utah plus the points.

Pick: 1u - Utah Jazz (+3.5) @ -110

Article Author

Expert handicapper known for his deep knowledge of all things NBA and his ability to pick winners.


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