The Houston Rockets are a team that likes to play with a regular flow, and the Utah Jazz is the kind of team that specifically designs its defensive game plan to upset that flow. These teams have split the two meetings between them this season, and they meet again on Thursday night at the Toyota Center in game that begins at 8:05 PM ET. The folks at BetAnySports give their customer a chance to get reduced juice, which offers better NBA betting odds, and then when the game begins, they can shift gears, as they enjoy the thrills of real-time wagering they can experience through Live Betting Ultra.
The Rockets have really made a move behind first-year coach Mike D’Antoni, to the point where they could be considered just below the elite of Cleveland, Golden State and San Antonio. They are currently positioned as the third-place team in the Western Conference, with a record of 44-20, and they are four games ahead of the Jazz, another team that was expected to be improved, but is nonetheless surprising. Utah is 40-24, in fourth place in the West, and they trail Houston by just four games. They made some personnel moves in the off-season, bringing aboard the likes of George Hill and Joe Johnson, and they already had a pretty good core that had a defensive concept together. Now they surrender fewer points than any other team in the league.
Hill has been listed as questionable for the Jazz with a toe injury. He sat out the last game against the Los Angeles Clippers. Johnson and Shelvin Mack are also questionable for Utah, while the Rockets will likely be without power forward Ryan Anderson, who has a back injury. Sam Dekker will try to pick up some of the slack.
In the NBA betting odds that have been posted on this game by the people at BetAnySports, the Rockets are laying points:
Houston Rockets -7
Utah Jazz +7
Over 216 points -110
Under 216 points -110
The Jazz have allowed just 96 points per game, and that is simply in direct conflict with what Houston wants to do. D’Antoni has been at a few different coaching stops, but it was in Phoenix that he did his best work with the whole “Eight Second or Less” strategy. He doesn’t have quite that same thing going on in Houston, but the Rockets are fourth in the league in the “Pace” category, which measures average possessions per 48 minutes. Honestly, the pace will be whatever James Harden dictates. D’Antoni knew when he took over this year that Harden was a dominant force in his offense, and he decided that he would let him take the ball and do whatever it took. So Harden, never known as a classic point guard, leads the league in assists (11.3 per game) and is also first in minutes played and free throws. He is also third in the NBA in scoring. So if you can throw him off his game, you can do the same to the Rockets.
As a bulwark against that, the Rockets reached out and traded for Lou Williams, who came off the bench with the Lakers to average 18.6 points, but has been cold after an outstanding effort against Indiana, when he scored 28 points. In fact, he has made just six of 29 shots since then. BetAnySports patrons realize that the Rockets, along the way, have to develop as many legitimate scoring options as possible to take the pressure off Harden. And Williams, who has been in the NBA for 12 years, is not going to stay cold forever.
But San Antonio, which is #1 in the NBA in Defensive Rating, held him to just one basket in eleven attempts the other night. And Utah can be just as pesky. With the Jazz it is a team concept, and part of the objective is to funnel the opponent into the middle, where Rudy Gobert awaits. Gobert, who is known as both the “French Rejection” and the “Stifle Tower,” is the NBA’s leader in blocked shots, as well as the #1 individually-rated defensive player. And as far as head coach Quin Snyder is concerned, the more he can make Houston work the ball around the court, the better, because the Jazz are 30th and dead last in Pace. They also did well shooting against the Rockets in two meetings, hitting 53.3% of their shots, although they did lose by nine points at the Toyota Center on November 19.
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