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The Utah Jazz Are Literally the NBA's Best Bet

SI Gambling analyst Ben Heisler details the rise of the Utah Jazz as an unstoppable force for NBA bettors in 2021.

Back on January 8, the Utah Jazz notched their fifth victory of the NBA season, a 131-118 win against the Milwaukee Bucks on the road. The season was roughly two weeks old, with Utah climbing above .500 at 5-4 straight up (SU) and 4-5 ATS overall.

Since that 13-point victory, the Jazz have hit every note for bettors this season, catapulting themselves to the NBA's best record at 22-5 and solidifying themselves as the most dominant team against the spread over 21-games. With their win on Wednesday evening against the Los Angeles Clippers, Utah has now won eight straight games ATS and have gone 19-1-1 in their last 21 games. The Jazz also mixed in an 11-game winning streak ATS from January 8 to January 31; losing straight up to the Denver Nuggets.

How historic is this run for the Jazz?

With the victory over Los Angeles, the Jazz tied the NBA record for most wins against the spread over a 20-game sample. Via ESPN Stats and Info, the 2014-2015 Atlanta Hawks are the only other team since 1990 to ever go 19-1 ATS.

The Jazz currently hold a 22-7-0 ATS record, covering 75.9% of their matchups. Since 2003, only 15 teams in NBA history have covered the spread in more than 60% of their games. The 2010-2011 Memphis Grizzlies and 2011-2012 San Antonio Spurs currently hold the highest cover percentage at 64.5%, 60-33-2 ATS, and 49-27-4 ATS, respectively. Additionally, only four teams have covered at a 60% clip since the beginning of the 2014-2015 season.

Even more impressive? The Jazz are winning almost exclusively as favorites. Utah has only been an underdog twice this season, going 2-0-0 ATS in those games. Only the Lakers have been listed as underdogs less than the Jazz, going 1-0-0 in their lone matchup where they were not a favorite.

As a whole, since February 17, underdogs have gone 211-189-5 (52.8%) ATS this season. Road underdogs, in particular, have been most profitable at 126-105-4 (54.5%).

Sportsbooks are making rapid adjustments for Utah's Success

I reached out to the team at DraftKings Sportsbook to see how the recent run of success for Utah has translated into the betting futures market.

At the start of the season, there were 12 teams listed with lower odds than the Utah Jazz to win the championship.

Utah began the season at +4000 odds to win the NBA Finals. Since the start of the 19-1 ATS streak, they have since moved from +3500 all the way to +1200. 

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Even with their success, bettors are just starting to buy in on the Jazz

On December 22, 2020, the start of the 2020-2021 NBA season, the Jazz did not rank in the top 10 of DraftKings Sportsbook's most-bet teams to win the NBA championship.

NBA Championship Splits as of 12/22/2020

NBA Championship Splits as of 12/22/2020

Fast forward to now, where the Jazz have moved up substantially at the betting window. While the percentage of bets has them tied for fifth with Denver, Milwaukee, and Boston, Utah has taken in the fourth-highest amount of money, likely indicating that sharp bettors believe in the staying power of the Jazz throughout both the regular and postseason.

NBA Championship Splits as of 02/18/2021

NBA Championship Splits as of 02/18/2021

How should bettors wager on the Jazz moving forward?

Bettors may feel a sense of fear-of-missing-out if they haven't gotten on-board, but they may want to consider taking the other side the rest of the way.

During that historic Atlanta run in 2014-2015, where they went 19-1-0 ATS from December 15 through January 26, the Hawks finished 56-41-1 ATS, covering 57.7% of their games.

With no team finishing above 65% since 2003, expect the sportsbooks to get back on the right side of the action. As more liability pours in from the public on Utah, now might be the ideal scenario to watch the inflated lines come in and start backing the other side.

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