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NBA Betting Picks April 17 – Utah Jazz at Houston Rockets

Written by:
Phil Simon
Published on:
Apr/17/2019

The only first round matchup of 50-win teams should be a close one, but the Houston Rockets didn’t get the memo, routing the Utah Jazz 122-90 in Game 1.

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The Rockets got their usual production from James Harden, hit a bunch of threes and locked down defensively, holding Utah to less than 100 points for the third straight game this season. The Jazz fell to the Houston in five games in a second-round series last year and better find an answer or the result this season could be similar.

Utah Jazz at Houston Rockets

Date and Time: Wednesday, April 17, 2019, 9:30 p.m. ET

Location: Toyota Center, Houston, TX

Opening NBA Odds: Houston -6.5, O/U 212.5

Jazz at Rockets TV Coverage: TNT

Odds Analysis

The Jazz were hoping to have someone, anyone, other than Houston as their matchup in the first round. Utah did win twice during the regular season, but when the Rockets had their lineup intact, they proved to be too much. And Utah’s recent history stands in the way of them getting a win in this game and in this series. Including the last two regular season meetings, the Jazz have dropped three in a row while failing to score 100 points in any of the games. Dating back to 2017 and including playoffs, the Jazz are just 3-11 straight up and 4-9-1 ATS against the Rockets.

A loss in the regular season finale proved to be just a minor hiccup for the Rockets, who closed the year winning 20 of 24 games. Having a healthy roster sparked the surge with the run coinciding with the return of Clint Capela to the lineup after the All-Star break. A healthy – for the time being – Chris Paul and an energized Harden have the Rockets playing the best basketball of the season, and it couldn’t have come at a better time.

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Jazz

Offense is a necessity when it comes to playing and beating the Rockets. And unfortunately for the Jazz, they didn’t get nearly enough in Game 1. Utah ranked in the middle of the pack in scoring during the regular season with an average of 111.7 points and hit nearly 47 percent of its shots from the floor. But the Jazz made just 30 of 77 shots on Sunday and they hit 25.9 percent of their triples. Better play offensively would certainly help, but the Jazz were also gouged on defense.

Defending is actually Utah’s strength and that was nowhere near the case. They did a decent job guarding the three-point line holding the Rockets to 36.6 percent on 15 made triples. But inside the arc was another story. The Jazz allowed Houston to make over 61 percent of its two-point shots. Forced into 18 turnovers, the Jazz had plenty of empty possessions and attempted 18 fewer field goals. They will be better in Game 2 because they can’t be any worse.

Rockets

It took awhile, but the Rockets feel poised that they can make another deep playoff run. Harden kept the team afloat early in the year with his epic scoring binge, working his way toward another MVP while CP3, Eric Gordon and Capela all missed time with injuries. Mike D’Antoni knew once his team got to full strength they would be a force, and he’s right about that. While the Jazz didn’t want this matchup, the Rockets sure did, and they need to take advantage of the opportunity by winning at home.

We all know what Houston can do offensively. Led by Harden, the Rockets topped the Association in three-pointers made and attempted. And that isn’t going to change in the postseason. The Rockets connected on 35.6 percent of their threes during the regular season, but the volume of shots more than made up for the difference. They were slightly better than their season average in Game 1 hitting on 36.6 percent of their 41 attempts with four players making at least three triples.

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We expected to see defense from the Jazz in Game 1 and the roles were reversed. The Rockets held Utah below 40 percent while forcing 18 turnovers. And that’s not a surprising effort from a team that was among the best defending last year. With Harden getting more support, the Rockets definitely have the edge scoring the basketball. Throw in a feisty defense to hassle Donovan Mitchell, and the Rockets should escape with another win and commanding lead in the series. This one will be closer, though, and a better effort from the Jazz will allow them to cover the 6.5-point spread.

NBA Score Prediction: Rockets 108, Jazz 105

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