A conference semifinal matchup between two Western Conference titans has played out in an entertaining manner thus far. The Houston Rockets and Utah Jazz each took one game in Houston, with the Rockets winning Game 1 and the Jazz being triumphant in Game 2.
While the Rockets’ regular season record was 17 wins better than the Jazz’s record, Utah has been playing excellent basketball for several months now. Since January 22, the team has a 34-9 record and leads the NBA in point differential.
In today’s Game 3, the series will shift to Utah as the Jazz look to continue their impressive play on both ends of the floor against the NBA’s overall top seed (10:30pm ET Friday on ESPN).
Today promises to bring a very competitive contest that both teams have a great chance of winning. We’ll preview some important X-factors for the game and then make some betting recommendations with our Houston Rockets vs Utah Jazz Game 3 predictions and picks.
Can Clint Capela Continue to Win His Matchup Against Rudy Gobert?
Capela is an awesome young center for the Rockets. He is certainly a borderline star and has a few small improvements to make before he gets legitimate All-Star consideration. Gobert is just a bit above Capela in terms of value.
The two big men have similar strengths and weaknesses, but Gobert can play more minutes, is longer and better defensively and shoots better from the free-throw line. In this matchup, though, Capela has had a slight advantage overall through two games. He is ahead of Gobert in points, rebounds and assists per game, while equaling him in blocks and committing fewer turnovers.
Gobert did start to achieve more success in Game 2, but he still hasn’t been showing up in the matchup like Jazz fans are probably hoping for. This premier matchup of the two men in the middle will continue to be a barometer for each of their teams’ performances.
Can Houston Get an Offensive Shot in the Arm From its Bench?
Houston’s bench is a bit better than Utah’s reserves. Proven role players like Eric Gordon, Ryan Anderson, Luc Mbah a Moute, Nene and Gerald Green are great veterans for Houston to have. Utah’s bench is decent, but Jae Crowder, Dante Exum, Alec Burks, Raul Neto and Jonas Jerebko don’t quite stack up, though they are a strong group on defense.
In Game 2, the Jazz backups were much better. They combined for 41 points on 15-of-30 shooting, including a total plus-minus of plus-26. The Rockets’ reserves totaled 22 points on 7-of-25 shooting with a combined plus-minus of minus-34.
The Houston starters are very explosive offensively, but they need some help attacking a stingy Jazz defense. It can’t just be the James Harden, Chris Paul and Clint Capela show.
Will Utah Continue to Stay Competitive in the Free Throw Game?
In the regular season, the Rockets attempted 5.5 more free throws per game than their opponents, which was an elite number. The Jazz attempted just one free throw more per game than their opponents. Houston is a crafty squad on offense, while Utah doesn’t quite have the slashing ability to live at the line.
The Jazz have stayed competitive in free throw attempts this series, attempting 23.5 per game to the Rockets’ 25.5. That is certainly a disparity they can live with, given that one of Houston’s biggest offensive strengths is getting to the free-throw line.
Utah has been very aggressive on its drives to the basket and has also drawn a good amount of loose-ball and offensive fouls to get Houston’s players in trouble. The Jazz can’t get tentative at home, and the Rockets will want to be more careful so Utah can’t neutralize Houston’s free-throw strength.
Our Preview’s Houston Rockets vs Utah Jazz Game 3 Betting Picks & Predictions
This series could go longer than most people think. Utah is for real this year with its amazing defense and improving offense, while Houston’s offense has become very reliant on James Harden, Chris Paul and Clint Capela.
I think a raucous Utah crowd keeps the team in this game all the way until the end, at which point both squads have equal chances at pulling out a victory. These are our Houston Rockets vs Utah Jazz Game 3 picks and predictions to beat the offshore betting sites:
- Houston, with its superior record and more explosive offense, is a 3.5 or 4-point favorite here. These are understandable lines, but this preview advises betting on the Jazz +4pts @ -105 with Bovada.
- Every major betting outlet is posting around 209pts as the projected total points scored in this game. The Jazz offense surged in Game 2, though, as the team found its groove in a faster pace. If Houston hits more of its threes in Game 3, this game should be very high-scoring. Bet the over 209pts @ -110 with 5Dimes or BetOnline.
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.