Jazz vs. Rockets Game 1 Betting Preview: Lay the Points With Harden & Co.?

Jazz vs. Rockets Game 1 Betting Preview: Lay the Points With Harden & Co.? article feature image

Troy Taormina-USA TODAY Sports. Pictured: Houston Rockets guard James Harden (13).

Game 1 Betting Odds: Utah Jazz vs. Houston Rockets

  • Spread: Rockets -6.5
  • Over/Under: 214
  • Time: 9:30 p.m. ET
  • TV Channel: TNT

>> All odds as of 5:30 p.m. ET. Download The Action Network App to get real-time odds and live win probabilities on your bets.

The Houston Rockets were so close to making the NBA Finals last year, ultimately falling short to the champion Warriors. They’ll look to get redemption this season, but they’ll first have to get through a tough Jazz team.

Is there any value in tonight’s Game 1 line? Our analysts discuss.

Betting Trends to Know

The team that is favored in the 4-5 matchup tends to win as the chalk has gone 112-53 (68%) straight up since 2005. But the favorite doesn’t cover consistently having gone 81-80-4 ATS in that time. — John Ewing

The Rockets ended the regular season on Tuesday and have had five days to prepare for the Jazz. Since 2005, well-rested (at least four days between games) home teams have gone 97-58 (63%) ATS in the playoffs. — Ewing

Mears: How I’m Handicapping Tonight’s Game

This line of Rockets -6.5 seems to me like people are expecting this to be a similar matchup to what we saw in last year’s playoffs. The Rockets won that series, flummoxing Donovan Mitchell and the Jazz offense with their switching defensive scheme.

This year is different, though. For starters, it’s unclear whether the Rockets will employ that same switch-heavy scheme. They went away from it a bit halfway through this season because they were getting killed by offenses due to it. Clint Capela was unable to hang with point guards as well as he did last year, and the ancillary defenders with Trevor Ariza gone just weren’t quite as good.

Perhaps the Rockets go back to it, but even if they do it’s not clear the Jazz won’t be able to handle it better this time around. Mitchell really struggled in that series, shooting 42.0% from the field and 31.3% from beyond the arc. But he was also a rookie point guard going against a Rockets team that was potentially one Warriors game away from winning the title.

Further, the Jazz have more pieces this year. Ricky Rubio, who missed last year’s series, gives them another ball-handler on the perimeter, for one. This seems like a minor thing, but even him starting the action in the halfcourt lets Mitchell here play off the ball, which means he can get a pick-and-roll on the move:

Here again, he’s able to get a step on the defender because they’re running him off a screen instead of having the set start with him every time:

Also, the Jazz have more shooting around him this year thanks to the addition of Kyle Korver. He plus Joe Ingles, who shot 45.5% in the playoffs last year, should give Mitchell more space to operate.

Of course, the Rockets and James Harden are supremely talented; they almost won the title last year for a reason. But the data suggests these teams aren’t too far off this season, and this line indicates that they are. Thus, there’s likely a bit of value on the Jazz at +6.5 tonight. – Bryan Mears

Editor’s note: The opinions on this game are from the individual writers and are based on their research, analysis and perspective. They are independent of, and may not always match with, the algorithm-driven Best Bets from Sports Insights.

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