Rockets at Jazz Picks and NBA Betting Odds
by Trevor Whenham - 1/28/2013
After having each won a home game earlier in the season, the Jazz and the Rockets take the floor in Salt Lake for the third meeting of what has been a strong rivalry at times. These teams won’t have the issues with each other that they had back in the Malone and Olajuwon era, but they both badly need to keep winning, so the stakes are high. Right now Utah sits in seventh place in the West, and Houston is a game back. If they stumble it could be a long offseason.
The Rockets have managed to find their way after a seven-game losing streak threatened to sabotage their entire season. They have won their last two and three of four since, though, including two road wins. Those wins were only at Charlotte and New Orleans, so you can’t get too excited. However, a dominating home win over Brooklyn last time out was certainly solid.
Utah has won seven of their last nine, including a gutsy overtime win over the Pacers on Saturday, so they have been much more solid recently. They haven’t lost a game at home since Dec.28. The six wins over the last month include a strong win over the Heat.
Rockets at Jazz Betting Storylines
The Jazz could have a big issue in this one if Gordon Hayward doesn’t rebound quickly from Saturday’s setback. The former Butler star, who has become a very valuable part of this team as the first man off the bench, suffered a sprained shoulder in overtime on Saturday night. It’s not expected to be a serious injury, but his status is uncertain for Monday. He’s playing better now than he ever has — 14.5 points per game and 47.1 from three-point range in January — and his absence would be a big hole for this team. Watching his status will be important in handicapping this one. Hayward led his team with 21 points the last time these squads met, so his confidence won’t be in short supply if he is ready.
When Houston was losing, their fundamentals were often sloppy and sometimes disastrous. The team had an extended film session on Thursday with assistant coaches, and they have played their two best games in a long time since. They are scoring and rebounding, they have owned the paint, and they have dished assists without turning it over nearly as often as they used to. In short, they have been an entirely different team than the one that forgot how to win for much of this month. Most striking, the team that had been lethargic on the fast break has suddenly been explosive. That makes them tough to contain, and that has led to the wins. This is a much tougher test than those two games, though, so perhaps the biggest question heading into this game is whether the Rockets have really turned things around or if their issues have just been temporarily camouflaged by circumstances.
Houston’s biggest obstacle to overcome is the strong play of Utah on their home court. They are 15-4 at home, and average 102.2 points while allowing just 95.7. On the road they are an entirely different team — 9-16, scoring 95.8 and allowing 101. When you are handicapping this Jazz squad, then, it is crucial that you view the location and assess them accordingly. That’s true of too many teams in the NBA, but few to the extent of this one.
Rockets at Jazz NBA Odds and Betting Trends
The Rockets are 0-5 ATS in their last five against teams with a winning home record. They are 1-7 ATS in their last eight road games. The “under” is 4-1 in the last five meetings between the squads and 5-2 in the last seven in Utah.
Rockets at Jazz Picks and Betting Predictions
Time to look for an upset here. The Rockets have been strong and are feeling confident. The potential loss of Hayward is an issue, and though they have won two of three I haven’t been that impressed with any of them. They failed to cover at home against Washington, lost very badly to the Lakers on the road, and then needed overtime in a sloppy home game against Indiana. They are not in top form, and against a confident Rockets team they have their hands full. I’ll take the points.
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