A couple of strong Western Conference teams meet tonight as the 5-4 Utah Jazz visit the 7-3 Houston Rockets (7pm ET Sunday).
Both teams are good, but they are very different in style. Houston is a fast, offensive-minded squad, while Utah is slow and defensive-minded. These two teams perfectly exemplify the two ends of this spectrum in the NBA.
The Rockets are looking to extend a two-game winning streak, while the Jazz are coming off a tough loss to the Toronto Raptors on Friday.
Will Utah and its defense win today or will Houston ride its home crowd to an offensive outburst? This preview will discuss the main storylines choosing our betting predictions and picks, with reference to the odds from the top online USA sports betting sites.
Can Ryan Anderson Cure His Home Woes For One Night?
There is a weird phenomenon going on with Ryan Anderson. Ever since joining the Rockets, the power forward has been significantly better in road games than in home games, especially shooting the ball.
Including the 2016-17 regular season, 2016-17 playoffs and the 2017-18 regular season, Anderson is averaging a cool 15.9 points per game on 46.9 percent shooting from the field and 45.9 percent from three-point range in road games. When Houston plays at home, Anderson scores only 9.8 points per game on 35.1 percent shooting from the field and 30.2 percent from long distance.
Even after a large sample size, the numbers haven’t normalized, which makes me think there’s something psychological going on that prevents Anderson from being a good player at home.
On this night, Houston would love for its stretch 4 to make life difficult for Utah. The Jazz have good perimeter defenders and a great rim protector in Rudy Gobert, but they don’t have an obvious candidate to lock down Anderson. He’s a rare 6’10” sniper who can make threes several feet behind the arc, whether contested or uncontested.
Can Donovan Mitchell Continue His Excellent Play?
It is rare for rookies to show the confidence and comfort level that Mitchell has shown in the past few games for the Jazz. The No. 13 overall pick in the 2017 NBA Draft has been a lethal scorer in his last four contests, averaging 20.8 points in just 27.8 minutes per game on a shooting slash of 46.2/44.4/91.7.
Those are elite numbers regardless of the fact that Mitchell just turned 21 years old. The former Louisville star shooting guard has an incredibly diverse offensive game that is only getting better.
However, Mitchell is still a rookie, and he had some very inefficient performances in his first few games. He is the type of player without a conscience who can shoot a team out of a game if he’s cold. Will he continue to hit his shots?
Which Team Will Dictate the Pace Early On?
Houston has dictated the pace in its last two games, easily beating the New York Knicks and Atlanta Hawks with offensive excellence that was spurred by a strong transition attack.
Utah is better than both of those teams and it would much rather play a slow pace than let the Rockets fly up and down the court all night. The Jazz actually play the slowest pace in the league.
Pace is very key in this game. The Jazz need to get back in transition while still pounding the offensive glass to make the game a grind, while Houston needs to outlet quickly and create turnovers when Utah is on offense.
Our Preview’s Utah Jazz vs. Houston Rockets Betting Predictions & Picks
Houston is the better team here and it seems to be finding its offensive groove. While the Jazz are a solid team, they don’t have the scorers to keep up with Houston consistently. While the Jazz could prove that statement wrong on any given night, the stronger chances say they won’t.
- Oddsmakers have posted Houston as a 6.5- or 7-point favorite in this game, depending on the site. Bet with Bovada or Bookmaker, both offering the best odds of Rockets -6.5pts @ -115.
- Regarding total points, 202 and 202.5 are the main posted over/unders for this contest. This is almost exactly halfway between these two squads’ average game totals thus far (194.1 for Utah, 209.8 for Houston), so this is a tough decision. However, the Rockets’ shooting is still heating up for the season, and Donovan Mitchell is finding his offensive groove. Place your bet with Bovada, going with the over 202pts @ -115.
Jared is a lifelong sports fan and writer whose specialist subject is NBA. A 2015 graduate of Indiana Wesleyan University, with a bachelor’s degree in journalism, Jared has been a sought-after freelance sports writer. In addition to his valuable USA Betting contributions, he has also written for other top media outlets.