This writer isn't quite sure why there's a 3 p.m. ET start from Salt Lake City (and nationally televised by NBA TV) on Friday when the Utah Jazz host the Indiana Pacers, but it's a nice surprise for NBA bettors. Utah is expecting back potential Sixth Man of the Year Jordan Clarkson and sharpshooter Joe Ingles from injuries, while Indiana is listing Myles Turner and Doug McDermott as questionable. The Jazz opened as 9.5-point favorites on the William Hill Sportsbook NBA odds.
Perhaps this early start has something to do with Utah playing again Saturday afternoon (4:30 p.m. ET) in an ESPN game at the Lakers. The NBA wasn't going to make the Jazz play a night game, travel out and then play a day game. Friday concludes a five-game homestand for Utah, which is 3-1 on it.
Clarkson has missed the past four with a sprained ankle and also said he has had a "crack" in his shooting hand that caused his hand to swell up, but he expects to play after practicing Thursday and is listed as probable. Clarkson is averaging 17.2 points overall, but he averaged 17.9 points on 44.7 percent shooting before the All-Star break compared to 15.3 points on 36.2 percent shooting since.
Ingles missed Tuesday's win over Oklahoma City with left knee soreness, but that may have been more of a rest thing in the second of a back-to-back considering he's not even listed on the injury report. The Aussie is averaging 12.0 points and is one of the NBA's top three-point shooters at 48.7 percent. Utah is listing backup big man Derrick Favors as doubtful but he only plays about 15 minutes per night.
Turner, a Defensive Player of the Year candidate averaging a league-best 3.5 blocks along with 12.7 points and 6.4 rebounds per game, has missed the past five with a sprained left ankle but was closer to player Wednesday in Houston.
It would be very intriguing to see Turner face off against two-time NBA Defensive Player of the Year Rudy Gobert, who is the betting favorite to win a third. He ranks second in the league in both rebounding (13.4 per game) and blocks (2.8). McDermott, meanwhile, was a late addition to the injury report Wednesday and sat out; he's averaging 13.1 points.
Indiana has won four straight road games, while Utah is best team in the league at home with a 25-3 record at Vivint Arena. The Jazz beat the Pacers 103-95 on Feb. 7 behind 27 points and 11 assists from Donovan Mitchell and look to sweep the regular season series for the first time since 2015-16.
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