Rockets vs. Jazz prediction: Utah can't win with a diminished Ricky Rubio

Ross Houston
April 15, 2019

The Utah Jazz tried to force the left-handed James Harden to his right to make things more hard on him on Game 1 of their first-round playoff series against the Houston Rockets on Sunday night.

Rudy Gobert had 22 points and 12 rebounds to lead the Jazz after not scoring more than 15 points in a game in the playoff series against the Rockets last season.

Rubio missed the final three games of the regular season as he nursed a quad injury, and there are thoughts he could miss extended time in this series.

Recording a near triple-double with 29 points, 10 assists and eight rebounds in 32 minutes, Harden did a majority of his damage - 17 points and seven assists - in the first half. The Utah Jazz have lost four of their last seven road games. The Utah Jazz are shooting 25.9 percent from beyond the arc and 85.2 percent from the free throw line.

The Jazz are No. 4 in the National Basketball Association in scoring defense at 106.5 points per game and No. 9 with 46.4 rebounds per contest.

While the Jazz struggled, the Rockets hit their season averages and then some. They'll assuredly come into this series prepared and with a well-crafted game plan, courtesy of Quin Snyder, that if executed well could very well lead to victory. Defensively, Houston is giving up 109.1 points per game while opponents shoot 46.6 percent against them and they hold foes to only 34 percent shooting from 3-point land. The Jazz are 3-1-1 ATS in the last 5 meetings in Houston and 3-2-1 ATS in the last 6 meetings.

Popovich and the Spurs will have a chance to add to the win total on Tuesday in Game 2.

According to oddsmakers, the Rockets are favored at home in this game, as they are getting odds of -6 points against the Jazz. The Jazz can certainly do a better job defending and will probably go back to defending straight up and possibly switching everything, but the Rockets are simply a bad matchup for the Jazz and there's no team in the league that can hang when everybody has the shot going.

They had a few rim-shattering dunks and 3-point makes, proving to be a huge spark off the bench for the Rockets.

We learned how some of these individual matchups will play out as the series goes along, but it's important to avoid ovrreacting to what we saw in Game One. I think the Rockets and Harden will score at a pace that the Jazz just can't sustain, especially down the stretch.

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