The NBA has a total of three games on the board for Thursday night. One of those game includes a Western Conference matchup between the Houston Rockets and the Utah Jazz. The game will be on TNT at 10:30 Eastern. These two teams are both struggling early in the season and will look to get back to an even record with a win on Thursday night.
Houston has posted an 11-12 record to start out the new season. The Rockets are currently sitting in thirteenth place of the Western Conference. Houston has lost their last game against the Minnesota Timberwolves. The Rockets have lost five of their last seven games. Houston needs to get back on track before they fall in an even deeper hole in a tough Western Conference.
The Jazz are sitting in eleventh place of the Western Conference with a 12-13 record. Utah has won four of their last six games. The Jazz are coming off a dominant win at home against the San Antonio Spurs. Utah has been playing well recently, but the Jazz have been a very streaky team this season.
Houston and Utah have both had their ups and downs this season, but they are both still in the playoff picture. This matchup will be the second of four between the Rockets and the Jazz. These two teams will meet two more times on December 17 and February 2. These two teams see plenty of each other, which helps them get a good understanding of each other’s rosters.
Last season, the Rockets and Jazz met up a total of four times during the regular season. Houston was able to dominate with a 4-0 sweep. In all four games, the Rockets were able to win by ten or more points. Houston was led by James Harden in most of these games. Harden had an MVP season last season and it showed against the Jazz.
These two teams met again in the second round of the playoffs. Utah was able to steal Game 2 of the series on the road, but that was the only win they were able to get. Houston was able to cruise to a 4-1 series win and move on to the Western Conference Finals, where they were eventually taken down by the Golden State Warriors.
The first game of the season series was hosted by the Houston Rockets. James Harden scored 29, while Carmelo Anthony added another 22 off the bench. Donovan Mitchell stole the show on the road though. Mitchell scored 38 points, 7 assists and 5 rebounds in route to the Jazz’s win. Utah was able to steal the game on the road 100-89.
Houston dominated the Jazz last season, but have fallen down 1-0 in the season series this season. The Rockets will look to bounce back with a road victory of their own. I believe that the Jazz will look to carry the last game’s momentum into this matchup against Houston.
Offense vs Defense
Houston has been putting up an average of 109.2 points per game, which is not good enough to break the top half of the league. The Rockets had one of the best offenses in the league last season and it was what helped them earn the top spot in the league. Houston’s defense has not been terrible this season, holding teams to an average of 109.5 points per game.
Utah’s offense is not better than the Rockets, but their defense is. The Jazz are averaging 107 points per game, which is near the bottom of the league. Utah’s defense is holding teams to an average of 107.8 points per game. Houston has a more offensive identity, while the Jazz finds a lot of their success of the defense.
The Rockets best player has unsurprisingly been James Harden. Harden is averaging 31 points and 9 assists per game. Chris Paul is averaging 17 points per game from the other guard spot. Clint Capela has had a solid season from the Center spot. He has been averaging 18 points and 12 rebounds per game to this point in the season. Eric Gordan has been doing a solid job coming off the bench, averaging 16 points per game.
Donovan Mitchell has been playing really well for the Jazz this season. Mitchell is averaging 21 points per game this season. Rudy Gobert has averaged 15.5 points, 13 rebounds and 2 blocks per game from the Center spot. Ricky Rubio has held down the Point Guard spot, averaging 13 points and 6 assists per game. Joe Ingles and Jae Crowder are both averaging 12.5 points per game. Since coming over in the trade with Cleveland, Kyle Korver has been averaging 11 points per game.
Utah runs a much more scoring by committee offense, which will mean a lot more rotational defense by Houston. One of the key matchups in this game will be between Clint Capela and Rudy Gobert. Both players are really solid defensively and can contribute offensively as well. I expect a really good battle between these players. Utah will need really good defense from Mitchell if they want to slow down James Harden on Thursday night.
Houston is stumbling into Thursday night’s game, but I believe that this is a good game to get their balance back. The Rockets are looking to capitalize with their offense and take advantage of Utah’s inconsistent offense. James Harden could go off for a big night with some mismatches in the lineup. The battle at the Center spot could play a really pivotal part in Thursday’s matchup.
BetOnline has Utah listed as a -2 against the spread at home. The Jazz have home court advantage, but I believe that this game is pretty even. Both teams are pretty inconsistent this season, which makes me believe that they can swap streaks on Thursday night. I am taking Houston on the road with the points.