Predictions for Saturday’s NBA playoffs: Jazz vs. Mavericks and Timberwolves vs. Grizzlies

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The NBA playoffs are officially here, and two of the most intriguing series are the Western Conference sets between the Dallas Mavericks and Utah Jazz, and the Minnesota Timberwolves against the Memphis Grizzlies. Unfortunately, Luka Doncic’s calf injury took away some of the fun here, but there’s still plenty of intrigue and betting opportunities. That’s why today we’ll break down our betting predictions for Game 1 of each series:

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Utah Jazz vs. Dallas Mavericks Predictions: Jazz -5

It might not sound great with the Jazz on the road here given their disappointing end to the season, but taking Utah -5 is the right play here. Doncic looks set to miss Game 1, and his absence will be too much for the Mavs to overcome. When they were in the playoffs last year, Doncic’s usage rate was incredibly high. In their series against the Clippers, Doncic averaged 28 shots from the floor per game. He averaged 35.7 points per game in that series and almost single-handedly pushed it to seven games. It will be nearly impossible to replace that type of production, and the Mavericks aren’t used to playing in a game of this magnitude without him.

Spencer Dinwiddie will try to take over, but he can’t do much. Dinwiddie has played in six career playoff games, and none since the 2018-19 season.

While the Jazz is certainly not without its issues, the media narrative has become exaggerated. There’s been so much drama over the alleged rifts in Rudy Gobert and Donovan Mitchell’s relationship that they’ve become pretty underrated. People seem to have forgotten that this is still a team with the best offensive rating in the NBA simply because they lost games they shouldn’t have had in stride. The Jazz are pretty seasoned and experienced, and they have the reigning Defensive Player of the Year in Gobert to partner with the most effective offense in the NBA.

Minnesota Timberwolves vs. Memphis Grizzlies Predictions: Timberwolves +6.5

We’re on the favorite for Jazz/Mavs, but we have to roll with the underdog here and back the Timberwolves +6.5 against the Grizzlies. Minnesota secured the No. 7 spot with a win over a tough Clippers team on Tuesday, giving them some much-needed momentum to get into this one. They should be able to carry enough of that juice to at least keep this one nearby.

For the past two months, the Timberwolves have had the best offense in the entire league. Anthony Edwards is sensational, and he proved on Tuesday night that the moment wasn’t too big for him just because he was only 20 years old. Edwards lost 30 in his playoff debut, and in his last full game of the regular season, he scored 49.

Minnesota’s win over the Clippers was particularly impressive considering they got next to nothing from Karl-Anthony Towns, who fouled out scoring just 11 points. The Grizzlies certainly aren’t unbeatable, and Ja Morant has only played one regular season game after returning from his knee injury, so he may not be fully 100% back for the first yet. match.

These teams have faced each other four times this season, and it has never felt like a mismatch. In fact, each team won two games. The Timberwolves won the most recent game by five, and their other win was by 43 in a game where Morant played. One of Memphis’ wins was in overtime and the other was in a very close game that was tied with less than two minutes left, so this streak feels a bit like a toss-up. Getting 6.5 points is too good to pass up.

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