Coming off of a dominating performance against the Dallas Mavericks last night, the 2-0 Rockets will face the 0-2 Utah Jazz tonight in Salt Lake City at 8:00 p.m.
The Jazz are certainly not a pushover team, but they’re not one of the bigger threats either. Last year, the Rockets handed them their worst home loss in the history of their franchise winning by 47 points. The Rockets have beaten the Jazz in their last three meetings. If the Jazz lose tonight, they will be staring down an 0-3 start for the first time since 1979 (that’s 34 years for those of us who’re bad at math).
The Jazz are dealing with similar turnover issues to the Rockets as they’ve racked up 43 in their first two games against the Oklahoma City Thunder and the Phoenix Suns. James Harden has absolutely dominated the Jazz offensively over their last several meetings averaging 24 pts. a game. The Jazz’s offense has struggled against the Rockets, so look for them to struggle even more with Dwight Howard in the paint.
The Rocket’s will again start Jeremy Lin in place of the injured Patrick Beverley and I have confidence that he will have another good game like he did against Dallas if he can keep the turnovers to a minimum. Something that Lin has struggled with his entire NBA career. The team’s keys to success against the Jazz will be to move the ball as well as they did last night, attacking the basket, ball security and capitalizing on the free throw line. Another solid performance from our bench players wouldn’t be so terrible either.
But be cautious, Houston. Despite the Jazz’s 0-2 start, their losses have not been blowouts. They lost to both Oklahoma City and Phoenix by a just mere three points (101-98 vs OKC – 87-84 vs Phoenix) with the game winning shot by Phoenix coming with just .7 seconds left. The Jazz are no slouch in the defensive department so, again, the Rockets will need to move the ball effectively and be aggressive.
The Rockets should win tonight assuming they perform the way they did against the Mavericks. If the Rockets can keep those goals in mind and execute, they have the talent to take down any team and lead them deep into the post season this year. But first thing’s first: The Utah Jazz.