Jazz Ready to Play a Tune on Rockets?

Jason Lake

Wednesday, December 6, 2017 7:01 PM UTC

Wednesday, Dec. 6, 2017 7:01 PM UTC

The Houston Rockets are the best team in the league right now, but the Utah Jazz might be the better NBA pick when they clash this Thursday night in prime-time.

Houston Rockets vs Utah Jazz

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Free NBA Pick: UNDER 206
Best Line Offered: at BetOnline

At press time, the Houston Rockets (18-4 SU, 13-9 ATS) are the top team in the Western Conference standings, second only to the 21-4 Boston Celtics in the entire NBA. But the advanced stats say Houston is the best thing going right now. They lead the league in point differential at plus-11.4, and on Basketball Reference’s Simple Rating System at plus-11.15. The Rockets also have the NBA’s best Pythagorean record at 19-3. And they did most of this without Chris Paul (+4.7 BPM) in the lineup. Since his return, Houston has won seven straight games at 5-2 ATS.

Nice, but how about those Utah Jazz (13-12 SU, 15-10 ATS)? They’re on a seven-game tear of their own at 6-1 SU and 7-0 ATS, Rudy Gobert (+3.1 BPM) just got back off the injured list after missing 11 games, and while their advanced stats aren’t as gaudy as Houston’s, the Jazz clearly have plenty of upside in the West. Something has to give when these two teams meet Thursday night in Salt Lake City. The Jazz have opened as 3.5-point puppies on the NBA odds board; do they have enough betting value with the red-hot Rockets coming to town?

Salt Flat Epic

Our crack analytics team can’t seem to decide. FiveThirtyEight has Thursday’s game (10:30 p.m. ET, TNT) as a virtual pick ‘em, with the Rockets projected to win 51 percent of the time. ESPN’s Basketball Power Index pegs Houston’s chances at 64.2 percent, which is close to –4.5 according to Wizard of Odds. Hmmmph.

Just for funsies, let’s throw those SRS numbers together and see what happens. Utah checks in at plus-3.94 SRS, and home-court advantage is worth something like 2.3 points these days, so carry the one... call it Houston –5. No surprise to see the SRS “projections” hewing close to the BPI numbers. FiveThirtyEight’s CARM-Elo formula sees something in the Jazz, though.

Old-school handicappers would also suggest you put small-market Utah in your NBA picks as a home dog, if you’re going to pick a side at all. But we’re not convinced there’s enough betting value on either team. That 206-point total, on the other hand, could be ripe for the picking. The UNDER is 5-2 for the Rockets since Paul’s return, and 9-4-1 for the Jazz with Gobert in uniform. We’ll buy that for a dollar.

Free NBA Pick: UNDER 206
Best Line Offered: at BetOnline

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