Categories: NBA

Jazz vs Rockets Game 1: NBA Pick for April 29th, 2018

On Sunday, the Houston Rockets host the Utah Jazz in Game 1 of the Western Conference Semifinals. The Rockets, who finished as the top team in the conference, are a huge favorite coming into the matchup at -11.5 points and a -900 moneyline. The spread opened at -10, but with the news that Jazz point guard Rick Rubio is out for Game 1 with a hamstring injury, the line shifted 1.5 points in Houston’s favor.

It’s already tough for any team to play in Houston where the team went 37-7 on the season, especially without their starting point guard. In the playoffs, they won all 3 home games over the Minnesota Timberwolves in spectacular fashion. The Rockets look to continue their high scoring ways as they bring a 110.4 ppg playoff average into this series.

The Houston Rockets are led by James Harden, arguably the MVP of the league. Harden finished off the opening round series against the T-Wolves with 29 ppg, 4.8 rpg, and 7.4 apg. Against Utah this year, Harden averaged 34.3 ppg, 6.3 rpg, and 6.8 apg. With those impressive numbers, it’s no surprise that Houston swept the Jazz this year by an average of 17.5 ppg. Their last head-to-head meeting was on February 26th, and the Rockets won 120-99 despite not having Clint Capela and Eric Gordon.

Capela had a stellar opening round against Minnesota and their talented big man Karl Anthony Towns. Capela finished the series with 15.8 ppg, 14.2 rpg and 2 blocks per game. In this round, Capela will have his hands full with Jazz’s stud big man Rudy Gobert. Utah’s center finished the opening round with 14 ppg, 11.2 rpg and 2 blocks per game. He’s a defensive stalwart and will definitely make it harder for the Rockets to score down low.

Without Rubio’s 13.1 ppg and his triple double against the Thunder in round 1 of the playoffs, there’s no way that Utah will win this game. The only question is whether or not the Jazz can keep this game close or not. And, I don’t think they will.

Utah averaged 105.5 ppg against the Thunder on 45.4% shooting. For the season, they averaged 103.8 ppg on the road and went 21-23. Over their last 10 head-to-head meetings, Utah has averaged 103.2 ppg and went 17-23 as an Underdog. These numbers aren’t good enough to beat the high scoring Houston Rockets.

The Jazz are 1-4 ATS in their last 5 games against the Rockets, 2-7 ATS in their last 9 games at Houston, and 2-9 overall in their last 11 games at Houston. The Rockets are 23-1 SU in their last 24 games at home, 4-1 SU against the Jazz at home in their last 5 meetings, and 16-6 ATS when playing the Northwest Division this season.

I expect Houston to score at least 110 points this game and I’m not sure if Utah will even break 100 points. I learned my lesson counting out the Rockets in games against the Timberwolves during the opening round of the Western Conference playoffs. I will not make that mistake again. I believe Houston will win, but that -900 moneyline has no value. Until we see these two teams play against each other, with Rubio, I would stay away from the Total. So, that leaves us with the spread. Without Rubio, the Rockets are going to crush the Jazz at home and get out to an early series lead. Don’t be surprised if the Rockets sweep the Jazz this series.

Rick Rockwell

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Rick Rockwell

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