It’s a quiet night by NBA standards. Two of the four games don’t promote a lot of excitement within, but Rockets vs. Jazz puts two of the hottest teams in the league head-to-head, while Lakers vs. 76ers gives us the next installment of the newest rookie rivalry.
Rockets @ Jazz
You’d have to be living under a rock not to be aware of the fact the Rockets are one of the elite teams in basketball. Since Chris Paul returned to the lineup, the Rockets are 7-0, scoring 120.3 points per game with a 117.6 offensive rating and 95.9 defensive rating.
Taking into consideration the last seven games of every team in the league, that 95.9 defensive rating ranks first with the 117.6 offensive rating in second.
The Rockets are good, but who trumps them in offensive rating and is right behind them defensively?
It’s not uncommon for the Jazz to fly under the radar, and the fact that 84 percent of tickets are going the Rockets’ way suggests the public has no idea how good this team is.
The Utah Jazz are the best team in basketball right now. I don't know how long this last (like a minute, an hour or a week) but this team is on a different level right now
— David Locke (@Lockedonsports) December 5, 2017
With their 119.4 offensive rating and 98 defensive rating, the Jazz has been one of the best performing teams in the league over the last fortnight.
They’ve found their feet and can prove it tonight playing a Rockets team they match up remarkably well against.
Houston shoots a comically low four percent of their attempts from mid-range. Instead, they fire 30.9 percent from within three feet and 52.3 percent from beyond the arc. If the 3-point shot isn’t on, their only alternative is driving to the basket.
Having kept teams to 30.6 percent 3-point shooting in their last seven games along with having the defensive powerhouse, Rudy Gobert, manning the paint, the Jazz are well equipped to handle James Harden and the Rockets.
With 84 percent of the tickets being written for the Rockets, the opening -5 line has blown out to -6.5. This has game has fade the public written all over it.
Pick: Jazz +6.5
Part II: Ben Simmons vs. Lonzo Ball
In what is an unfair rivalry for Ball right now, the pair is set to go head-to-head tonight in Philly.
It didn’t end well for Lonzo last time out. He played one of the worst games of his 23-game career, while Simmons came just one rebound short of a triple-double. Simmons is +400 tonight to register a triple-double tonight.
Simmons’ size and length are too much for Ball and his limited offensive capabilities. Everybody knows his shot is off, but he’s also struggled to be effective driving to the basket.
The numbers are in and Jayson Tatum is better at shooting threes than Lonzo Ball is at shooting … free throws?♂️ pic.twitter.com/MNSYFf5W5l
— Celtics on NBCSB (@NBCSCeltics) December 5, 2017
Having learned from their last matchup, I expect to see Ball stamp his mark on this game by feeding teammates. He’s averaging seven assists per game for the season, but with an extra emphasis on facilitating rather than finding his own shot tonight, I like him to go at least one better.
Pick: Ball 8+ assists
All odds provided by William Hill as of 8/12