Game Preview: Houston Rockets vs Utah Jazz

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After a high scoring win over the Portland Trail Blazers, the Rockets continue their road trip in Utah to take on the Jazz. James Harden leads the Rockets in both scoring and assists, at 28.9 points and 12.2 assists per game, while they are led in rebounds by Clint Capela, who is at 8.7 a game. Going into Tuesday’s game, the Rockets rank 4th in offensive rating, 24th in defensive rating, and 8th in net rating.

The Jazz have struggled with injuries early, with three out of their five starters missing time. Due to these injuries, the Jazz have been slightly disappointing, sitting at 10-8. The Jazz are lead in points and assists by George Hill, who averages 20.9 and 4.2 respectively, and in rebounds by Rudy Gobert, who averages 10.6 rebounds a game. The Jazz rank 13th in offensive rating, 3rd in defensive rating, and 6th in net rating.

Starting Lineups

The Rockets are likely to continue to start with James Harden at point guard, Patrick Beverley at shooting guard, Trevor Ariza at small forward, Ryan Anderson at power forward, and Clint Capela at center, with Eric Gordon getting starter’s minutes.

With Derrick Favors sidelined for an undetermined amount of time (knee injury), the Jazz have had to find someone to step into his role as the starting power forward. The Jazz are likely to start George Hill at point guard, Rodney Hood at shooting guard, Gordon Hayward at small forward, Boris Diaw at power forward, and Rudy Gobert at center.

Three Things to Watch

  • Rematch- As part of their road trip, the Rockets take on the Jazz for the second time this season, but this time the Jazz are a little bit more healthy, with George Hill and Boris Diaw in the game. Watch to see how the Rockets match up with a team that could end up fighting with them for the final home court spot in the playoffs the second time, and with one of their top players back in the game.

  • Turnovers- As we all know, the Rockets struggle with turnovers, ranking 27th in turnover rate, but luckily for Houston, the Jazz may be even worse at creating turnovers than the Rockets are at preventing them, ranking 28th in opponent turnover rate. Watch to see who wins the turnover battle.

  • Bench Improvement- Since the departure of Tyler Ennis from the rotation, the Rockets have had a competent bench. With Harden is off the court, the Rockets are now 18.4 points per 100 possessions worse, which isn't good, but is a major improvement over the beginning of the season, where they were over 30 points per 100 possessions worse. Watch to see if the tightened rotation and better play of the bench allow for Harden to rest more.

Prediction and Tip-Off

This is a game that can go either way; the Jazz are a good team that is at home, but they also played in Minnesota just the night before. I predict the Rockets lose in a tight one, but I would not be surprised if the Rockets win.

Tip-off will be at 8:00 P.M. Central Time at the Vivint Smart Home Arena (terrible arena name) in Salt Lake City on Tuesday, November 29th. The game will be televised on ROOT Sports and NBA TV, with the radio broadcast on Sports Talk 790-AM.

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