Houston (28-17) is riding an emotional rollercoaster after being one of the first teams to play on Sunday in the wake of the tragic death of Kobe Bryant. The Rockets tipped off in Denver just minutes after the news broke and got off to a fast start before losing to the Nuggets 117-110. Houston will now play the second game of a back-to-back without their two top scorers. James Harden will miss his second straight game with an injured thigh and Russell Westbrook will not suit up due to rest.
Utah (32-13) is playing its best basketball of the season having won four straight games and 14 of the last 15. Donovan Mitchell poured in a team-high 25 points in Saturday’s 112-107 victory over the Mavericks. Rudy Gobert added 22 points and went 8-of-8 from the floor. Gobert leads the NBA in field-goal percentage (68.9), is second in rebounds (14.5) and fifth in blocks (2.0). The Jazz are leading the league with a 122.4 offensive rating since the start of the new year. Utah is nearly unbeatable in Salt Lake City with an 18-3 record at home.
ESPN’s FPI gives Utah a 67.1% chance of winning this game. We break down the line and offer our best bets and analysis for Monday’s matchup between the Rockets and Jazz.
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Rockets vs. Jazz Game Details
Date: Monday, January 27
Time: 9:00 p.m. ET
Location: Vivint Smart Home Arena (Salt Lake City, Utah)
TV: NBATV, Altitude Sports
Spread: Jazz -12.5
- PG Russell Westbrook (rest) out
- SG James Harden (thigh) doubtful
- PG Emmanuel Mudiay (ankle) probable
- Rockets are 28-17 SU and 21-24 ATS this season
- Jazz are 32-13 SU and 25-19-1 ATS this season
- Under 25-20 in Rockets games this season
- Over is 23-22 in Jazz games this season
Analysis & Pick
This is a bad spot for the Rockets. With their two best players both sitting out, I’m not sure how Houston will be able to keep pace with a red hot Jazz squad that is playing their best basketball of the season.
Donovan Mitchell is a good bet to have a big game. Mitchell leads Utah in scoring (24.7 ppg) and recently scored 46 points in a win over the Pelicans. The third-year pro is the first NBA player since Lebron James to score more than 4,500 points, grab more than 800 rebounds and dish more than 800 assists in his first 200 games.
With Harden and Westbrook both sidelined, Houston will rely on role players like Austin Rivers to carry the load offensively. Rivers has 29 points, five assists and zero turnovers over his last two games. Clint Capela is also trending downwards, collecting less than 10 rebounds in two of his last three games after posting double-digit boards in 27 of his previous 28.
Utah has a significant rest advantage and has been home all weekend while Houston is traveling in from Denver after losing on Sunday. The Rockets are 2-4 ATS in the second game of a back-to-back this season. Don’t let the big spread scare you, take the Jazz.
PICK: Utah -12.5
Follow Jared Smith on Twitter: @jaredleesmith