Utah at Houston
Time: 6 PM CST (NBA TV)
Spread: HOU -4
Odds c/o 5dimes
The Houston Rockets have won seven of its last 10 SU, and it recently shook it up at the trade deadline, parting ways with center Clint Capela to add “three and D” specialist Robert Covington. Houston had fared 10-1 without Capela playing this season, so it seemed to focus on that in turning its team over to a center-less lineup. Houston is 4-point favorites hosting the Utah Jazz on NBA TV at 6 PM (CST). The over/under is set at 233.5 points according to NBA oddsmakers at 5dimes.
The Utah Jazz is 32-18 thus far this season, and following entering 2020 so hot, the Jazz has fallen cold to lose its last five games.
Things have been slower coming together following the addition of point guard Mike Conley, perhaps than anyone may have expected. The veteran is coming around after a horrid start to this season and now averaging 13.6 points and 4.6 assists per game. His ball-handling and offense help keep Donovan Mitchell ready to find his scoring spots, and Mitchell is blossoming into a true superstar in his third season.
“Spida” as Mitchell goes by, is averaging 24.2 points, 4.3 rebounds, and 4.4 assists per game while talking a PER just over 20. Perhaps the biggest surprise for the Jazz has been that Bojan Bogdanovic is far more than a role player, but more of a second star. This changes a lot.
Bogdanovic is averaging 20.9 points per game while shooting 41.1 percent from behind the arc on seven-plus attempts per game. His offense helps the Jazz continue to play its slow, defense-first style of basketball, of course, cued by the defense of Rudy Gobert. Gobert is averaging 14.9 points and 14.5 boards per game, but his 2.6 blocks/steals help further illustrate his importance to Utah. His rim protection is among the league’s best, and he covers the occasional blunders of Mitchell and the Jazz’s other perimeter defenders nearly flawlessly.
Also, Utah has stepped up its scoring to 109.7 per game this year, and with the way that Utah defends, that should be adequate to put together another very nice season. While few are quick to credit the Jazz in the realms of the elite and true contenders, it arguably is the strongest of the dark horse contenders in either conference.
The Houston Rockets are 33-19 and seeded No. 5 in the Western Conference. It has just a one-game lead on No. 6 OKC. The Rockets are hoping to turn it around with a slumping superstar guard James Harden and the addition of Robert Covington, whom it acquired at the trade deadline.
Harden is averaging a silly 38.2 points per game on the season with 7.5 assists to his credit as well. He is connecting on 38 percent of his threes and 46 percent of his field goals while turning it over an “almost excusable” 4.7 times per game. It is excusable simply because Harden produces so much that it is a mere corollary of the ball being in his hands most of the time.
Westbrook has fared well as a Rocket, though. He is shooting 43 percent from the floor while posting per-game averages of 24.2 points, 8 rebounds, 7.1 assists, and 1.9 blocks/steals in 35 minutes a night. The Rockets thus far appear to have great chemistry, which was something that was both developed quickly and unexpected by many naysayers and pundits who mostly felt that Harden and Westbrook would be unable to share the ball well together. Due to the fact that both rely on having the ball in their hands to create offense, it remains to be seen how long and how well this pairing of Westbrook and Harden works.
The pair once was together in OKC, but neither is used to the role they respectively played during that time. Westbrook has averaged eight assists per game over the last two, and his minutes seem to be locked in at 33 to 35 per game, which should take some of the load off of it, in the name of the ever-present “load management.”
The Rockets also got more offense out of center Clint Capela this season. He is averaging 13.9 points, 14.2 rebounds and 2.9 blocks/steals per game. He was dealt to the Atlanta Hawks yesterday in a move that netted the Rockets Robert Covington. Covington signals a move for the Rockets to play even more “small ball,” as one of the league’s most coveted “Three and D” swingmen.