2008 NBA Playoffs Game 2: Utah Jazz vs. Houston Rockets Preview and Pick

Game 2 - Utah Jazz (up 1-0 in best of seven) +1, o/u 183 at Houston Rockets, 9:30 pm Eastern Monday, TNT
by Zman of Predictem.com

The Houston Rockets entered this playoff season banged up, without two starters. And now, after losing the first game of this best-of-seven first round series to the Utah Jazz, at home, no less, Houston finds itself in big trouble if it hopes to reach the second round for the first time in a decade.

Meanwhile, Utah will look to take a very firm hold of this series when the two teams hook up for game two Monday night in H-Town.

NBA bookies list the Rockets as one-point home chalk for Monday’s game, with a total of 183 . Which is almost exactly what the line was on game one of this series, which the Jazz won 93-82 Saturday in Houston.

Utah outshot the Rockets from the field Saturday 52% to 37%, and benefited from Houston’s 18-of-29 performance from the free-throw line. The win was the seventh in the last 11 meetings in the series between these two teams for the Jazz.

Also, Utah was one of two teams to win one of the eight first-round series openers over the weekend on the road. The Philadelphia 76ers upset the Detroit Pistons Sunday in MoTown.

The Rockets are playing with center Yao Ming, who went down for the season, apparently, with a foot injury back in February. Houston initially continued on with what would eventually become a 22-game winning streak. But since that run ended, the Rockets have gone just 9-8.

And Houston will again be without guard Rafer Alston Monday. He went down last week with a hamstring injury, and missed game one. In his place, guard Bobby Jackson went 3-for-15 from the floor Saturday, and one-for-seven from 3-point range.

Last season, Utah took three of four games from the Rockets during the regular-season, then beat Houston in seven games in a first-round playoff season. This season, the Jazz took two of three games from the Rockets. The over/under is 6-5 over the last 11 meetings in this series, which includes that playoff series of a season ago. The previous 10 meetings had averaged just 183 total points, and these two teams could only come within eight points of that figure Saturday.

Also, over the course of the four games these two teams have played this season, Utah has outshot Houston from the floor 48% to 42%, and outrebounded the Rockets by a 44-39 per-game average.

The Jazz went 46-36 against the spread this season, but only 17-24 both straight up and vs. the numbers on the road.

Meanwhile, Houston went 47-33 ATS this season, 31-10 SU and 24-15 vs. the numbers at home.

The Jazz ranked 4th in the league this season in point differential at +6.9 per game, shot just under 50% from the floor as a team, 37% from 3-point range and 76% from the free-throw line, ranked 17th in the league in FG defense at 46% and 3rd in rebounding at +3.1 per game.

Houston ranked 9th in the league in point differential at +4.7 per game, shot 45% from the field, 34% from long range and 73% from the line, and ranked 2nd in the league in both FG defense at 43% and rebounding at +4.0 per game.

The Sagarin ratings at USAToday.com ranks Utah 4th at 96.5, the Rockets 7th at 95.2. Sagarin’s home-court advantage figure ended the regular season at 3.5.

The o/u went 43-38 in Utah games during this regular season, which averaged 206 total points per, while the totals went 35-46 in Rockets games, which averaged 189 points.

Zman’s Pick: Expect more of the same; Utah beating up the disabled rockets.