Rockets vs Jazz – NBA Pick for December 7th
- Spread: Rockets -7
It’s been a while since we’ve seen the Rockets, who have had three days off since their last game against the Lakers on Sunday. While there may be a bit of a rust factor after a fairly lengthy layoff, Houston comes into tonight’s game in Utah playing the best basketball of any team in the league.
The Rockets come into tonight’s game as winners of 7 consecutive games, all of which have come since Chris Paul returned from his knee injury. Houston is actually 13-1 over their last 14 games, which is staggering. The schedule has been somewhat friendly along the way, but the Rockets have just been dominant.
One of their 18 wins on the season came over this same Jazz squad in Houston back on November 5. Chris Paul didn’t play in that game, which allowed James Harden to completely take over. Harden made mincemeat of the elite Utah defense, scoring a career-high 56 points to go along with 13 assists in 35 minutes. Harden connected on an insane 19 of his 25 shots that night, including 7 of his 8 triples.
It’s safe to say Harden won’t be posting another 50-spot here tonight. The Jazz have really hit their stride of late and this game is going down in Utah, which is one of the best home-court advantages in the league.
The Jazz got Rudy Gobert back from a knee injury of his own 2 games ago and he joins a team that has been firing on all cylinders offensively. The Jazz really started to take off once rookie Donovan Mitchell was handed the reins of the offense. The ex-Louisville Cardinal has been an offensive force of late.
Through 3 games in December, Mitchell is averaging 31 points along with 3.3 assists and 2.7 rebounds per game. We’re working with a small sample size, but he’s connected on nearly 47 percent of his three-point tries and 53.3 percent of his overall shots from the floor.
The last time these teams met was when Mitchell was initially finding his footing. Since then, he’s emerged as Utah’s No. 1 offensive option, especially with Rodney Hood having missed the last several games with a sore ankle.
The Jazz are one of many teams with drastic home/road splits this season. Utah is a robust 11-4 at Vivint Smart Home Arena this season, but they’re just 2-8 on the road. The Rockets, meanwhile, are 8-3 at home and 10-1 away from home.
7 points is a pretty hefty spread for a road team playing in Salt Lake City. The Jazz have been incredibly tough to beat on their home floor for years now. While the Rockets may be the best team in the league at this stage, taking them to cover a 7-point spread in this building feels risky.
On the flip side, it’s tough to ignore how electrifying Houston has been of late. The Rockets take and make the most three-pointers in the league by a wide margin. Utah has the third-best team three-point percentage in the league (38.8), and they take about 30 of them per game. Houston hasn’t been as efficient in terms of makes (36.5 percent), but they take a staggering 44 triples per game. Houston makes over 4 more three-pointers per game than any other team in the league.
If the Jazz can successfully slow the pace of the game down and make the Rockets play more of a half-court game, Utah has a chance here. While the Jazz have been surprisingly lethal from long range in the early going, do they really want to get into a three-point contest with a team like the Rockets?
If you’re a risk-tolerant bettor, you can take a flier on the Rockets to cover 7 points. The last time Houston won a game by fewer than double digits was back on November 9 against the Cavaliers. They have a month’s worth of blowouts under their belts, and that could continue tonight.
However, we do like the value on the Jazz as home underdogs here. You won’t often see Utah listed at +215 to win a game on their own floor.
If you want what feels like a safer play,
take the Jazz to cover that spread at home.