Rockets Look To Cover On The Road And Advance To The Next Round

Houston Rockets at Utah Jazz

Monday 10:30 P.M. ET

Free NBA PIck: Rockets ATS

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Saturday night could have gone differently for both teams and would have put so much more pressure and anticipation into Game 4, but the Houston Rockets are in a position to close out the first-round series with the Utah Jazz because they prevailed on a night in which star guard James Harden made just 15 percent of his field-goal attempts. A return to form certainly wouldn’t help the Jazz stay alive when the two Western Conference teams meet Monday night in Salt Lake City.

Fourth-seeded Houston has a commanding 3-0 lead in the best-of-seven series despite Utah bottling up Harden for three-plus quarters in Game 3. Harden scored 14 of his 22 points in the fourth quarter as the Rockets posted a 104-101 victory. Harden was 0-of-15 shooting through three quarters and finally made his first basket on a dunk with 7:34 remaining. He finished 3 of 20 from the field but also contributed 10 assists as Houston set itself up for a chance at a four-game sweep. Houston won two home games by an average of 26 points before pulling out the close win at Utah despite shooting just 38.4 percent from the field.

The Jazz were deeply deflated after the game. Factor in that no team in NBA history has recovered from a 3-0 deficit to win a playoff series and Utah is facing staggering odds. But struggling star guard Donovan Mitchell promises he and his teammates will put forth an extreme effort in Game 4.

Mitchell scored 34 points in Game 3, but it was an uneven performance. He missed 16 of 20 shots over the final three quarters to finish 9 of 27 overall. Worse, he had a wide-open 3-point attempt that could have tied the game with 8.7 seconds left that bounced off the rim, and the Rockets closed it out. Mitchell is shooting just 32.8 percent from the field in the series while averaging 21.3 points. He scored just 30 total points in the first two games.

Harden isn’t faring much better at 34.3 percent. But he is averaging 27.6 points and 8.3 rebounds and received plenty of help from his teammates in the Game 3 victory. Despite having a perceived home court advantage, the Jazz are only 21-20-1 ATS at home on the season including the playoffs, and the Rockets are just too talented of a group to not cover against the Jazz. Expect for that series to end tonight and for the Rockets to advance to the next round of the playoffs.