Jazz vs. Rockets NBA Pick
The Utah Jazz visits the new-look Houston Rockets on Sunday. Can the Jazz beat the NBA odds on the road?
Utah Jazz (33-18) vs. Houston Rockets (33-19)
Sunday, February 9 at 7:00 PM ET (NBATV), Toyota Center
Jazz Beat Trail Blazers in Controversial Fashion
The Jazz trailed 74-58 with 11:07 left in the third quarter before coming back to win 117-114. The victory was marred by controversy. Damian Lillard was about to tie the game with a layup that hit the right side of the backboard before Rudy Gobert blocked it away but he wasn’t called for goaltending.
Utah had lost five straight games and who knows what would have happened in overtime but even with their poor form as of late, how will Houston stop Rudy Gobert (plus-5.2 Box Plus/Minus)?
Rockets Go Small
The Timberwolves, Hawks, Rockets, and Nuggets all agreed to a massive four-team trade this week.
This is what it looked like:
Malik Beasley, Juan Hernangomez, Evan Turner, Jarred Vanderbilt, and Brooklyn’s 2020 first-round pick (from the Hawks) to the Timberwolves.
Clint Capela and Nene to the Hawks.
Robert Covington, Jordan Bell, and a second-round pick of the Warriors (from the Hawks) to the Rockets.
Gerald Green, Keita Bates-Diop, Shabazz Napier, Noah Vonleh, and a 2020 first-round pick of the Rockets to the Nuggets.
The Rockets desperately wanted to make an upgrade on the wing and Robert Covington is a 3-and-D specialist on a team-friendly contract worth $11.3 million this season that runs through 2021-22.
Jordan Bell can give them some minutes at the center position but the Rockets will likely look for a more reliable replacement for Clint Capela on the buyout market.
Right now, P.J. Tucker is their starting center but they need a more traditional big to play the position and give them better matchups against star big men in the playoffs.
How Has the Experiment Gone So Far?
The Rockets are 1-1 since the trade went down. They beat the Lakers 121-111 in Los Angeles on Thursday behind 41 points, eight rebounds and five assists from Russell Westbrook.
James Harden had just 14 points on 3 of 10 shooting and 1 of 6 from beyond the arc and Robert Covington had a solid debut with 13 points, eight rebounds, four assists and two steals in 30 minutes off the bench. P.J. Tucker held his own with 11 points and six rebounds in 31 minutes.
The next day the Suns crushed them 127-91 in Phoenix. James Harden bounced back and scored 32 points on 9 of 19 shooting and 5 of 10 from 3-point range in 30 minutes but not having Russell Westbrook, who sit the game out for load management hurt them.
Non-Harden Rockets finished 6-for-38 from 3-point range, including a pair of garbage-time 3-pointers from Austin Rivers. Their rotation players struggled mightily, Robert Covington was just 1-for-7 from beyond the arc and P.J. Tucker also had a tough night with two points on 1 of 6 shooting and 0 of 4 from distance.
Betting Trends and Prediction
The Under is:
7-3 in Utah’s last 10 games against a team with a winning straight up record
6-1 in Houston’s last seven games after allowing more than 125 points in their previous game
7-3 in Houston’s last 10 games against a team with a winning straight up record
9-4 in Houston’s last 13 games following a straight-up loss of more than 10 point
9-4 in Houston’s last 13 Sunday games
13-6 in Houston’s last 19 games as a home underdog
7-3 in the last 10 meetings
4-1 in the last five meetings in Houston
Rudy Gobert had 16 points and 14 rebounds in 34 minutes against the Trail Blazers. He will have a monster game against the small Houston lineup and he will be a difference-maker on defense as well.
Gobert (plus-4.0 Defensive Box Plus/Minus) will control the paint and force the Rockets to shoot many 3-pointers (which they always do anyway) and the Jazz rank 5th in the NBA, allowing opponents to shoot just 34.3 percent from beyond the arc. Russell Westbrook will be back for the Rockets (plus-1.9 Box Plus/Minus) but Utah’s 3-point defense will make this game go Under.