Rockets to Rebound Friday with Game 3 Win and Cover vs. Jazz

rockets

Doug Upstone

Thursday, May 3, 2018 4:06 PM UTC

Thursday, May. 3, 2018 4:06 PM UTC

Upsets occur in the NBA playoffs, but double-digit favorites losing at this time of year is uncommon. Utah returns home after an unexpected split in Houston, and they could make this a fascinating series.

NBA Friday:Rockets (24-13-1 ATS as road faves) vs. Jazz (7-3 ATS as home dogs)Free NBA Pick: Rockets -4Best Line Offered: Bovada

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One could make the case Houston could have gotten off to a sleepy start in Game 2, and they did. The Rockets trailed at halftime by nine points, but by the end of the third quarter had cut it to one and looked poised to do what Golden State had done the night before. One problem, the Jazz were not interested in playing the Washington Generals. Trailing by two points with just more than eight minutes remaining, Utah went on a 16-2 blitz and sent the Rockets crashing as 10.5-point home favorites.

The series is tied at 1, with Game 3 moving to Utah on Friday (10:30 p.m. ET; ESPN). Houston is a 3.5-point road favorite on the NBA odds board, with a total of 207.

Can Utah Beat Houston at Its Own Game Again?

For the previous contest, we said the key for Utah to play with Houston was to defend the arc better and stay with two to three made 3's. The Jazz were like Gorilla Glue on Rockets shooters from "way downtown" (Marv Albert impersonation), as they were only 10-for-37 for 27 percent. Besides this accomplishment, Utah went a step further and made 15 of 32 treys, giving Houston a problem.

After largely being a non-factor in the postseason, Joe Ingles (yeah, that Joe Ingles from Australia) went 7-for-9 from deep and Jae Crowder was 3-for-6 in leading this bomb squadron.

Coach Quin Snyder's team might not win the three-point shooting contest again, but if they can defend in a similar fashion and have seven players with nine or more points again, he will be thrilled.

Will Houston Eliminate Disturbing Signs in Game 3?

For all the greatness James Harden and Chris Paul have shown, neither has been part of a highly successful postseason. While coach Mike D'Antoni tried to say his team was "lulled to sleep" in Wednesday's contest after how easy the series opener was, that is too pat an answer.

All the great teams that have won championships over the last 20 to 30 years and beyond had "off" games on their way to titles. But Harden and Paul have never been to the Finals, let alone win one. As the leaders of the Rockets, their lack of leadership is striking and Houston has played three below-average games out of seven in the playoffs already.

Maybe the Rockets will give three sterling performances in a row and wrap this series up in five and all will be forgiven when they take on Golden State. But you really have to wonder about this club's mentally.

What to Expect for Outcome

For our NBA picks, as disturbing as Houston's play has been at times, this was a real wake-up call. Look for the Rockets to be fully engaged on both ends of the floor. This will not be easy for the Rockets because the Jazz have confidence and will have a raucous home crowd. But in the end, Houston moves to 20-7 ATS in away games after conceding 115 or more points.

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