It is said that an NBA playoff series doesn’t really start until the home team loses a game. Well, this series has officially started now, as the Utah Jazz shocked Houston on their home court in game two. After a game one where the Rockets seemingly toyed with the Jazz, they had a twenty-five-point lead at halftime in game one, game two was a whole different story. The Rockets trailed all game long and got outscored in the fourth quarter and now find themselves without home court advantage the rest of the way out.
Game three has now shifted to Utah, where the Jazz were close to unbeatable in the second half of the year. The Rockets are -4.5 road favorites tonight. The game total over-under is set at 208.5 points. Tipoff is scheduled for 7:30 PM PST from the Vivint Smart Home Arena in Salt Lake City, Utah.
What a difference a game makes. After game one this series looked like it was going to be a sweep. The Rockets did whatever they wanted in game one, and it didn’t look like this series was going to be an overly competitive one. Now, just one game later, people are asking themselves if this Utah team could pull off the upset. Utah finished the regular season as hot as any team in the NBA and feature one of the best young players in the NBA in Donovan Mitchell.
Mitchell was a breakout star this season in his rookie campaign. Mitchell averaged twenty points and nearly four rebounds and four assists a game for the Jazz. He was a budding superstar in the regular season but has really stepped up his game in the postseason for Utah. In game two Mitchell scored seventeen points and did an amazing job running the offense as he dished out eleven assists. He was a big reason why the star of game two, Joe Ingles, was able to get so many open looks from deep.
Joe Ingles, probably not a name that many of you recognized before game two. You know his name now. Ingles was a role player at best in his short stint for the Jazz before this year. This season Ingles enjoyed a breakout year. He averaged double-digits scoring and was a sharpshooter off the bench, shooting 44% from deep. He was the hero in game two as he shot a blistering 7-9 from three-point land, pouring in twenty-seven points. I can’t imagine that Ingles is going to be able to reproduce that level of production again, but the kid can shoot, and if they leave him open again tonight, he can hurt Houston.
Look, Houston was the best team in the NBA this year. All season long, there was little doubt that they were the best team. They ran away with the top seed in the Western Conference and finished with the best record in the NBA. But the regular season is over now, it’s the playoffs and none of that matters anymore. When you look at what makes this team up, it doesn’t scream playoff success.
James Harden has played on a super team of some form or another pretty much his entire NBA career. Whether it was with Durant and Westbrook in Oklahoma City or now with Chris Paul and Clint Capella in Houston, but has never enjoyed any postseason success. Chris Paul is in a similar boat as he has never won anything either. Houston head coach Mike D’Antoni? He is known more for not winning in Phoenix with a prime Steve Nash and failing miserably in New York with the Knicks than anything else. His seven seconds or less offense that works great in the regular season, and not at all in the playoffs, has been great to boost up guys fantasy basketball numbers, but really for winning games in the playoffs.
I think Utah wins this game tonight outright. They are playing with more and more confidence every day, and they are really starting to believe in themselves. Could the Rockets win? Of course, they can. But getting the opportunity to back the side I like, and get a bunch of points? That is too good to pass up on tonight. Give me the home underdogs Utah Jazz getting +4.5 points tonight!