March 23, 2016 (3:57 PM ET)
There is one NBA pick tonight.
In addition, two NCAA Tournament picks have been released early for the Sweet 16 round!
Take Utah Jazz +2 spread (buy half a point) against Houston Rockets for 3% of bankroll.
The Houston Rockets have been installed as very marginal favorites on their own home court tonight despite facing a team below them in the standings! There are great reasons for that. The casual NBA bettor sees superstars like Harden and Howard laying a short spread against a supposedly 'lesser' team and quickly pulls the trigger. That is naive. Experts and Vegas linemakers rate the Jazz highly and as the better team due to several different factors.
Utah and Houston are battling for a playoffs spot in the West but one team is far more disciplined than the other. Quin Synder's well-coached team listen to his every word and instruction and have fully bought into his system. JB Bickerstaff meanwhile cuts a frustrated figure on most nights as he watches his team turn the ball over and play defense sporadically. The Rockets have developped some bad habits this season which makes them a mediocre team at best! They seem disinterested in some of the games and while this won't be one of them, their poor body language and lack of chemistry is bound to cause more problems. This is a team that does not have every player rowing in the same direction and believing in the same exact cause. Some seem more concerned with their personal gain and stats than the team winning games. This roster is made up of individual talents that don't really know how to play well collectively. General manager Daryl Morey will have to break up this squad in the near future and knows it! He was listening to offers for Dwight Howard among others back in February and understands that this group has not gelled well together.
The Jazz are one of the best defensive teams in the NBA and give up an average of just 96.5 points per game! They have active hands and are very well organized on that end of the court. It helps that they have not one but two legitimate rim-protectors in their starting lineup in Favors and Gobert. The two talented towering players, both of whom are still young and very athletic, block and alter shots constantly and that bodes well for a team that likes to set up its offense with great play on the defensive end. The fact that the oddsmakers have set a low total (201 points) for this matchup is a clue as to which team they believe will dictate the tempo. Afterall, this is a very low total for a Houston game when you consider that this is only the fourth time out of 34 home games this season that they host an opponent and the total is between 200 to 204.5 points! They aren't used to playing at that reduced pace and Vegas has hinted that this will be more of a Utah Jazz style of basketball game than the type that the Rockets like to play.
Quin Synder's side would not only leapfrog the Rockets into a playoff position with a 'W' tonight but could potentially move up to 7th if the Mavs lose in Portland! This well-coached team has no shortage of motivation and will want to even up the season series 2-2, having lost twice to Houston earlier this season. Unlike their tired opponents, they are fully rested coming into this game. The Rockets gave it their all in Oklahoma City last night and spent a lot of energy, only to ultimately fall just short! Then they had to hop on a place back to Texas to face a physical team that has had the last two days off. Look for the more disciplined team to win this game outright, unless the referees decide to call everything on James Harden a foul. If things do get strange at the end, that's when those two points might prove precious but we expect Utah to win this game against their direct rivals, knowing that more difficult games such as tomorrow's test in Oklahoma City is right ahead while Houston plays six of its next nine games at home.
Other notable facts to consider:
- Rockets are just 2-7 ATS in their last 9 back-to-back games!
- Rockets are just 11-16 ATS when seeking revenge for a defeat.
- Jazz have won 11 of 14 games against teams with losing records in the second half of the season!
- Rockets rank 22nd in the NBA when it comes to defending 3-point shots!
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