The Houston Rockets and Utah Jazz are meeting for the second straight season in the Western Conference Playoffs. Houston beat the Jazz by a count of 4-1 in last year’s Western Conference semifinals, and are off to a 1-0 start so far this postseason after a win in the series opener Sunday night. The Rockets hope to take a 2-0 series lead before heading to a tough place to play in Utah.
Houston won six of its last seven games to finish off the regular season, but still managed to slip to the number 4 seed in the Western Conference. The Rockets were hoping to avoid Golden State until the Western Conference Finals but now hope to advance to meet the Warriors in round two. Utah played its way to the fifth seed with a great month of February, finishing the regular season with 50 wins. Houston is a -6.5 point favorite in Game 2 of this series.
Rockets Show They Can Defend
The Houston Rockets would much rather win games with their explosive offense, but their defensive ability was on display in the series opener. Houston forced 18 turnovers in Game 1 of the series, holding the Jazz to just 39 percent shooting from the field. The Rockets also had six blocks in Game 1, and they were extremely impressive. Houston was a top 10 defensive team during the regular season, which can make them very tough to beat.
James Harden was impressive in the series opener, finishing with 29 points, eight rebounds, and 10 assists. The Jazz are spending a ton of time and effort to slow him down, but they are leaving other players wide open. Houston made 15 three-pointers in Game 1 of the series, and all five of their starters were in double figures. The Rockets have proven that they can beat the Jazz in a variety of ways.
Jazz Need More From Bench
If the Utah Jazz are going to even the series at 1-1, they are going to have to get more production from their bench. The Jazz reserves managed to score just 18 points in the series opener, and this just simply won’t get the job done. Utah did manage to score more than 111 points per game during the regular season, but that same team didn’t show up in Game 1.
Center Rudy Gobert and shooting guard Donovan Mitchell did all they could to lead their team to victory in the series opener, but the Rockets just have too much talent. Gobert had a team-high 22 points and 12 rebounds, and Mitchell chipped in with 19 points. The Jazz made just seven three-pointers in the first game of the series, and need to shoot it better in Game 2.
Houston Cruises to 2-0 Series Lead
It just doesn’t appear that the Utah Jazz have any business winning any games in this series, especially in Houston. The Rockets blasted the Jazz in the series opener, and will likely do the same in this one. Utah just doesn’t have enough offense, and the Rockets have too many weapons. Bet the Houston Rockets -6.5 over the Utah Jazz.