The top and bottom teams in the Western Conference standings square off on Saturday night when the Houston Rockets visit the Utah Jazz. Tip-off for this game is scheduled for 10 p.m. ET at Vivint Smart Home Arena in Salt Lake City.
The Rockets come into this contest having dropped four in a row and holding the NBA’s worst record at 16-51. Houston is in 15th place in the Western Conference standings, four games behind the Minnesota Timberwolves for 14th place.
Utah is back on top of the Western Conference standings after winning its last four games. The Jazz are 49-18, one game ahead of the second-place Phoenix Suns for home-court advantage throughout the playoffs.
The NBA odds for this one have the Jazz as 15½-point favorites, with the over/under set at 225½.
Showing Some Fight
Although their season will be over soon, the Rockets have been putting up a fight against some of the best teams in the league, especially Milwaukee. Houston lost by eight at Milwaukee on Friday night after beating the Bucks in their previous meeting on April 29.
The loss came despite only having eight players available, with the team using newly signed Khyri Thomas, who is the 28th player to get in a game for Houston this season, which ties an NBA record.
“This is definitely something that we can look back on and hopefully build from,” Rockets coach Stephen Silas said.
Guard Kevin Porter Jr. was sidelined with an ankle injury on Friday, but he may be able to play. Porter is averaging 16.6 points and 6.3 assists per game, including 20.7 points per game over his last six outings. Porter had 27 points, eight assists, and two blocks in his only game against Utah this season on March 12.
The Rockets will be without center Christian Wood, who hasn’t played since Sunday with an ankle injury. Wood leads the team with 21.0 points and 9.6 rebounds per game.
Utah wants to gain home-court advantage throughout the playoffs because it has been strong at Vivint Smart Home Arena. The Jazz are 30-4 at home, with two of those losses coming in the team’s first two home games of the season.
The Jazz have been playing well despite the absence of guard Donovan Mitchell since mid-April. Mitchell, who averages a team-high 26.4 points, has missed the last 11 games and isn’t expected back until maybe the last game or two of the regular season.
Forward Bogdan Bogdanovic has upped his scoring over the last few games and is coming off a 48-point performance in the Jazz’s win over Denver on Friday night. Since Mitchell’s injury, Bogdanovic is averaging 24.2 points per game, up from his season’s average of 16.8 points per game.
Guard Jordan Clarkson has also been an offensive force for the Jazz, averaging 17.6 points per game off the bench and being the leading candidate for Sixth Man of the Year. Clarkson is averaging 19.6 points since Mitchell was sidelined.
Center Rudy Gobert could have a big game in this one with Wood sidelined. The league’s second-leading rebounder (13.3) and shot-blocker (2.8) is averaging 14.4 points per game but could find the paint a little easier to navigate in this one.
Jazz Win; Rockets Cover
Utah is coming off an emotional win and may not be focused too much on the Rockets. The Jazz have too much talent to lose at home, but they could have some trouble winning by 16.
Houston has shown some fight despite losing games, and if Porter is playing, it will have a puncher’s chance of pulling the upset. Either way, the Rockets will keep this one close despite suffering another loss.
When making your NBA betting picks, take the 15½ points and go with the Rockets on the road.