Rockets Go as Harden Goes Against Jazz
The fans at Toyota Center will see the Utah Jazz and the Houston Rockets when they take their seats on Sunday. They open their first round NBA Playoffs series in the Western Conference. James Harden will look to carry on his torrid play into the postseason. Harden, who is the front-runner for MVP of the league, led the NBA with a 36.1 scoring average. His 378 three-point baskets are second all-time behind Stephen Curry. Curry had 402 in 2015-16.
The fourth-seeded Rockets knocked out the Jazz in five games in the second round of last season’s playoffs. Harden averaged 28 points and 7.4 assists in the series. Houston ended the regular season with a flourish. They rolled off 20 wins in 23 games before suffering a final-second 112-111 loss to the Oklahoma City Thunder in its season finale.
Fifth-seeded Utah may be the underdog in the series but second-year shooting guard Donovan Mitchell sees no reason why his club can’t reach the NBA Finals. “I think that’s my mindset at least. I play this game to win,” Mitchell told reporters. “It doesn’t matter. They can say, ‘No rookie has ever gotten to the finals.’ They can say, ‘No second-year player.’ But for the guy who I look to is Dwyane Wade got there in his third year so why can’t we do it? Why can’t we as a team get to that point?”
This, That, and a Dart Throw
The Utah Jazz finished the regular season at 50-32. It appeared over the final few weeks that the Portland Trail Blazers would be Utah’s first-round opponent. The way things played out on the final day of the season led to the slim odds of Houston being the foe. Mitchell topped 20 points in nine of the club’s 11 playoff games last season. Both of his under-20 outings came against Houston. PG Ricky Rubio (quadriceps) missed the final three games of the regular season. He is expected to give it a go in Game 1.
The Houston Rockets finished the regular season at 53-29. Harden isn’t looking just to be a scorer during the postseason. He feels more like a leader than he did earlier in his career. “I’ve learned to be more even-keeled,” Harden said of his postseason experiences. “We have to be confident, keep that up as we go along.” Center Clint Capela had a career-best 45 doubles-doubles this season. He is battling an upper respiratory infection but is expected to be ready for the series opener. We will have to see how this plays out. PG Chris Paul topped 20 points in three of the past seven games.
The Dart Throw: Rockets 118, Jazz 109
NBA Playoffs Betting Odds Trends
|Utah is 4-1 ATS in its last 5 games
|Utah is 13-3 SU in its last 16 games
|Utah is 10-3 ATS in its last 13 games on the road
|The total has gone OVER in 4 of Utah’s last 6 games on the road
|Utah is 4-8-1 ATS in its last 13 games when playing Houston
|Utah is 3-10 SU in its last 13 games when playing Houston
|The total has gone UNDER in 5 of Utah’s last 7 games when playing Houston
|Utah is 4-12 SU in its last 16 games when playing on the road against Houston
|The total has gone OVER in 6 of Utah’s last 9 games when playing on the road against Houston
|Houston is 6-1 ATS in its last 7 games
|Houston is 6-1 SU in its last 7 games
|The total has gone UNDER in 14 of Houston’s last 20 games
|Houston is 5-0-1 ATS in its last 6 games at home
|Houston is 5-0 SU in its last 5 games at home
|The total has gone UNDER in 6 of Houston’s last 8 games at home
|Houston is 1-3-1 ATS in its last 5 games when playing Utah
|Houston is 10-3 SU in its last 13 games when playing Utah
|The total has gone UNDER in 5 of Houston’s last 7 games when playing Utah
|Houston is 1-3-1 ATS in its last 5 games when playing at home against Utah
|Houston is 12-4 SU in its last 16 games when playing at home against Utah
|The total has gone OVER in 6 of Houston’s last 9 games when playing at home against Utah
Utah at Houston Wednesday, April 17
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