Despite a disastrous shooting night out of James Harden, the Houston Rockets managed to hang on for a 104-101 win in Game 3 of their series with the Utah Jazz on Saturday night. The victory gave Houston a commanding 3-0 lead in the series, and at this point it’s safe to say the Rockets can likely look forward to yet another meeting with the Golden State Warriors in the next round.
Utah was in control for most of the game, but poor late-game offensive execution ultimately cost the Jazz their best chance of nudging their way back into the series. Now, the Jazz are staring down the barrel of a potential sweep as the teams run it back in Game 4 in Salt Lake City Monday night.
The following odds are courtesy of our live odds feed:
2019 ATS Home
2019 ATS Away
2019 O/U Home
2019 O/U Away
Rockets on the Brink
Houston didn’t look like a legitimate championship-caliber team for most of the season, but they have hit their stride at the right time. Most oddsmakers believed the Rockets were the greatest in-conference threat to Golden State before the season began, but the team’s title odds dropped considerably following a lackluster start. The Rockets started just 1-5 this season, which is what ultimately led to Houston winding up with the No. 4 seed in the conference.
As mentioned, Harden struggled to score in Game 3. Last year’s league MVP still led the way with 22 points, but he shot just 3-20 from the field and a brutal 2-13 from 3-point range. The Jazz changed their defensive strategy when it came to Harden a little bit, but he was still able to pick up some huge buckets in the game’s waning moments when his team needed him to.
The fact that the Rockets managed to win a game in which Harden was largely ineffective while shooting just 38.4 percent as a team doesn’t bode well for Utah’s chances to come back in this series. All 5 Houston starters scored in double figures, while Austin Rivers and Gerald Green gave the team a lift off the bench.
The Rockets are hopeful that they can close the series out tonight in order to get as much rest as possible before their presumed second round showdown with the Warriors.
Jazz Coming up Short
Donovan Mitchell paced the game with 34 points in Game 3, but he missed a wide-open triple with about 8 seconds to play that would have tied the game. Mitchell couldn’t have asked for a cleaner look at the rim, yet he missed and Houston was able to ice the game from the foul line at the other end.
Mitchell did shoot just 9 for 27 on his way to those 34 points, but he still needed more help. Mitchell was really the only consistent source of offense for the Jazz, as Derrick Favors’ 13 points were the second-most anyone else scored in the game for Utah.
Utah tried to play the Rockets’ game by taking as many threes as possible. The Jazz jacked 41 3-pointers in Game 3, though they made just 12. Houston, meanwhile, shot 15-45 from beyond the long line.
Nobody will give Utah much of a chance to win 4 straight games and advance to the next round, but the Jazz can restore some of their pride with a win in front of their home fans this evening. Utah was a 3-point favorite entering Game 3, but the Rockets have been installed as 3-point favorites into the potential closer on Monday night.
I’ve been going hard on the Rockets in this series to this point, and they haven’t let me down yet. Things weren’t easy at all for this team in Game 3, but they still managed to get the result they wanted. Utah’s defense on Harden was far more effective than it had been in the previous 2 games, but they just haven’t been able to get out of their own way in this series.
There’s definitely potential for a let-up here, but the Rockets surely know that they need to get this series over with as quickly as possible in order to prepare for a war against Golden State in the conference semis.
I like the Rockets to keep it rolling and close this thing out tonight. The Jazz let a golden opportunity slip away in Game 3, and it’s hard to imagine they aren’t at least a little bit deflated heading into the potential decider tonight. I like the Rockets to cover the 3-point spread here, but winning outright on the moneyline isn’t a bad bet, either. I would be betting on Houston at -150 to close this thing out on Monday night.
Taylor Smith has been a staff writer with GamblingSites.org since early 2017. Taylor is primarily a sports writer, though he will occasionally dabble in other things like politics and entertainment betting. His primary specialties are writing about the NBA, Major League Baseball, NFL and domestic and international soccer. Fringe sports like golf and horse racing aren’t exactly his cup of tea, bu ...
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