The Houston Rockets travel to Salt Lake City to take on the Utah Jazz on Thursday in a battle of two Western Conference preseason favorites who have not lived up to expectations in the early season.
The Rockets and Jazz faced off in the second round of the playoffs last season and were both among the early favorites to pace the Western Conference. A quarter into the season though, both teams are still groping for form and find themselves currently looking outside the playoff picture.
The Houston Rockets are in a funk right now, losing five out of their last seven games played. Houston is one game below the .500 mark at 11-12 on the season. They are only 4th in the Southwest Division and are currently in 13th spot in the Western Conference team standings, not where they wanted to be after last season’s franchise best regular season.
James Harden is having another MVP type of season, at least statistically. The Beard leads Houston in three statistical categories, pacing his team in points (30.6 PPG), assists (8.7 APG) and steals (2.3 SPG). Clint Capela has emerged as the team’s second leading scorer at 18.1 points per game while leading the Rockets in rebounding at 11.8 per night. Chris Paul is averaging 16.6 points and 8.1 assists per game for Houston.
The Rockets score an average of 109.2 points per game which is just ranked 18th in the entire NBA. Houston is also just 26th in assists at 21.5 dimes per night despite having two elite playmakers in Chris Paul and James Harden. On defense, the Rockets rank 12th in scoring defense at 109.5 points allowed per game. Houston is also just 27th in rebounding at 41.0 per game.
The Jazz have won three out of their last four games and are coming off a massive 139-105 win over the San Antonio Spurs last December 4th. Utah is 12-13 on the season and is just 5th in the Western Conference’s Northwest Division. If the playoffs started today, the Jazz would be out of playoff position at only #12 in the Western Conference team standings.
Donovan Mitchell continues to lead the Jazz in his second NBA season. Spider Mitchell is averaging a team high 21.3 points per game while also contributing 3.6 assists and 1.71 steals per game. Ricky Rubio is the top passer in the team with his 6.4 assists per game on top of 12.7 points per game. Stifle Tower Rudy Gobert is Utah’s defensive anchor as he leads the team with 12.8 rebounds and 2.1 blocks per game. Gobert is also the second leading scorer on the team with 15.5 points per game.
The Jazz are 24th in the league in team scoring at 107.0 points per game. They also rank 13th in assists at 24.1 dimes per night and are 23rd in rebounding at 42.8 boards per contest. Defensively, Utah has the 7th best scoring defense in the NBA at 107.8 points per game allowed.
The Rockets and the Jazz have played a total of 198 regular season games. The Jazz lead the all-time series 104-94 but the Rockets have won four out of their last five meetings. These teams have played once already this season with the Jazz beating the Rockets 100-89 in Houston last 10/24/18.
The Rockets are 2-3 SU in their last 5 games played and are 6-7 SU in 13 road games played this season. The Jazz are 3-2 SU in their last 5 games and are 3-6 SU in 9 home games played this season. Head to head, the Rockets are 8-2 SU in their last 10 meetings.
We know these two teams are better than what their record is currently saying and I’m confident that the both of them can still turn around their seasons with plenty of games left. But with regards to this game, I’m leaning towards the Jazz because they play with better defense and between them and the Rockets, the Rockets have been more inconsistent. Houston is also allowing opponents to shoot 48.8% from the field in their last five games and when you play on the road, that usually doesn’t work. Based on current form, we’re picking the Utah Jazz to beat the Houston Rockets on 12/6/18.
Thee Rockets are 9-14 ATS in 23 games played this season. Houston is 5-8 ATS in their 13 road games played this season. The Jazz are 12-13 ATS in 25 games played this season. Utah is also 4-5 ATS in nine home games played this season. Head to head, the Rockets are 7-3 ATS in their last 10 meetings.
The betting favorite is 7-3 ATS in the last 10 meetings between these teams. Houston is 1-4 ATS in their last 5 road games and are 1-5 ATS in their last six games against teams from the Northwest division. The Jazz are 4-1 ATS in their last five games playing on one day rest. As the odds have it, this should be a close game but Utah’s defense and home court advantage should be the keys to victory and covering the spread. Prediction: Jazz -2
The total has gone over in 14 out of the last 23 games played by the Rockets. The over is also 7-6 in Houston’s 13 road games this season. The over is 16-9 in Utah’s 25 games played this season. The total has gone over in 8 out of the 9 home games played by the Jazz.
With Gobert, Utah is an elite defensive team at #7 in the league in scoring defense. But surprisingly, the over is 8-1 in their 9 home games played this season. The Jazz have averaged 113.33 points per game in their last six games played.The Rockets have averaged over 118 points in their last nine games played. With both teams hitting their stride offensively as of late, I like the over in this matchup between struggling teams. Prediction: Over 216.5