NBA Western Conference Betting Odds: Utah Jazz at Houston Rockets

las-vegas-strip-2012-1Utah at Houston
Time: 8 PM ET, Mar 17, 2014
Spread: HOU -13.5
Total: 205

Betting odds courtesy of Bovada

The Houston Rockets are 44-22 on the season and currently seated 4th in the Western Conference with a 1.5 game lead on No. 5 Portland. The Rockets, however, have lost its past three contests heading into Monday night’s showdown with the 22-45 Utah Jazz. NBA oddsmakers are heavily favoring the Rockets, favoring Kevin McHale’s squad by 13.5 points.

The Rockets’ skid has come against some quality competition. Oklahoma City, the surging Chicago Bulls and Miami all won by eight points or more. James Harden dropped 30 points on the Heat, but it wasn’t enough, as Chandler Parsons has struggled badly recently. Parsons has shot just 11-of-37 over the past three games and against the Bulls he was a putrid 1-of-11. Though the bulk of defenses’ attention is focused on James Harden and Dwight Howard, Parsons is crucial towards the Rockets’ success. On the season, the 6’9″ small forward is averaging 16.2 points, 3.9 assists and 5.5 rebounds per game, but over his past 10 games he is averaging just 11.4 points per game on 35.7 percent shooting.

Howard is looking more and more active, like the player he was in Orlando. The league’s best center is averaging 18.6 points, 12.4 rebounds and 1.8 blocks per game, and he’s helped Houston vastly improve its defensive efficiency.

The Rockets will continue to search for the perfect 4-man to pair with Howard, but in the meantime, Terrence Jones has made a compelling case for that role. The second-year forward from Kentucky is posting the third-highest PER on the team (18.0) while averaging 11.4 points, 7.1 rebounds a game, shooting 53.7 percent from the floor and 31.3 percent from behind the arc. Ideally, that three-point percentage should climb another four or five percent, and that would make Jones a very Rashard Lewis-like complement to Howard.

Utah fell 122-104 to San Antonio last night (Sun Mar 16), despite an impressive game from power forward Derrick Favors. Favors posted 28 points on 12-of-19 shooting while also grabbing 10 rebounds and getting three steals. The Jazz are hoping center Enes Kanter evolves into the franchise center, but he struggled badly against the Spurs’ D. Kanter hit just 3-of-11 from the floor, though he did grab 11 rebounds (six offensive). Kanter is shooting 49.6 percent from the floor, which is a mark he should be able to vastly improve on given his soft shooting touch and immense size/length.

The Jazz did select another big man to develop in Rudy Gobert, and Gobert is another physical freak with high potential. The real future for the Jazz still likely lies in what the team does with its 2014 draft pick, as it projects to be very high. With Joel Embiid on the board, Gobert and Kanter both could be gone, and Utah also has to do decide what to do with Gordon Hayward. If the Jazz select either Andrew Wiggins or Jabari Parker, it’s doubtful Hayward will be resigned.

UTA Trends: UNDER 4-0 in last 4 following SU loss of 10 points or more; UNDER 5-0 in last 5 games following ATS loss; UNDER 11-2 in last 13 road games.

HOU Trends: 0-4 ATS in last 4 when opponent allows 100 points or more in previous game; OVER 4-0 in last 4 following an SU Loss; 0-4 ATS in last 4 games overall.

Head-to-head: UNDER 7-2 in last 9 meetings; UNDER 6-2 in last 8 meetings in Houston; Jazz 11-5 ATS in last 16 meetings in Houston.

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