And this year’s matchup with the Houston Rockets is off to a rough start, with Utah losing Game 1 by a score of 110-96. But it’s still early in the series, and Utah has plenty of time to turn things around.
As for the Rockets, not much changed from the regular season. They finished with the league’s best record at 65-17 and will have home-court advantage throughout the playoffs.
Will Houston keep rolling and walk into the Western Conference Finals? Or can the Jazz make this a series by winning Game 2?
I’m going to discuss the matter below along with both teams’ chances of covering the spread. Also note that you can bet on this game at GTBets.
Houston Utah Odds – 2018 NBA Playoffs Semifinals Series Game 2, May 2 at 8:05pm ET
Jazz +11 (-109) / +635 moneyline
Rockets -11 (-109)/ -979 moneyline
Over 204.5 (-110)
Under 204.5 (-108)
Why the Utah Jazz Will Cover +11
The Utah Jazz may have lost the first game by 14 points. But they certainly didn’t play poorly. In fact, they shot 50% from the field and had good offensive performances out of rookie Donovan Mitchell and Jae Crowder (both 21 points).
The main place where Utah was lacking is the three-point line. Outside of Crowder, who hit 5 out of 7 three-pointers, the rest of the team shot a dismal 2 for 15. Add it all up, and the Jazz made less than 32% of their attempts from beyond the arc.
For Utah to keep pace with the Rockets, they absolutely must shoot the ball better from outside. This is within the realm of possibility, given that they hit 36.6% of their three’s during the season.
Once again, the Jazz find themselves in a spot where it’s a struggle to control the game tempo. They obviously want to slow things down and make this a half-court contest. But just like when they faced the Warriors last year, it’s going to be hard to slow the Rockets.
The key for Utah in Game 2 will be limiting Houston’s transition opportunities so that the Rockets are forced to play more half-court sets. This feeds into the Jazz’s hands, because Rudy Gobert can make more of an impact with his shot-blocking abilities.
Assuming the Jazz can slow the game down, then look for this to be a closer contest than their +11 spread suggest.
Jazz Playoffs ATS Record: 3-4 overall; 1-3 on the road
Why the Houston Rockets Will Cover +11
James Harden delivered his usual MVP-caliber play in the first contest. The Beard scored 41 points, grabbed 8 rebounds, and dished out 8 assists. He was hot from beyond the arc, making 7 out of 12 three-pointers.
Harden got plenty of help too, with Chris Paul, Clint Capela, and P.J. Tucker adding 17, 16, and 15 points, respectively. The only real downside in terms of stats is that Paul had an uncharacteristic 7 turnovers. But don’t count on this too often from one of the game’s best point guards.
As a team, Houston shot 45.1% from the field, which wasn’t as good as Utah overall. But the key difference is that they made 53.1% of their three-point shots.
The Rockets may not have gotten out and ran as much as they’d like in Game 1, because Utah will try to keep this a half-court affair the entire series. But they were able to impose their will enough to take the first contest down.
With another home game on the slate, it doesn’t seem like Houston will have much trouble winning again. The only question is if they can cover the lofty -11 spread that GTBets has set for them right now.
Rockets Playoffs ATS Record: 4-2 overall; 3-1 at home
Final Thoughts on Houston and Utah Odds
The Jazz have been okay against the spread in the playoff so far. That said, it doesn’t unrealistic for them to cover +11. This is especially the case if they can shoot better from the three-point line.
I don’t think that Houston has any reason to fear losing Game 2. But considering that the Jazz are a tough team that plays good defense, I don’t know if the Rockets will blow out the Jazz two games in a row. This being the case, look for the Rockets to win by a comfortable margin, but not enough to cover -11.
Final Score Prediction: Houston wins 107-98 – Jazz cover +11 spread