Rockets News

Game Day Preview: Houston Rockets vs Utah Jazz, Feb. 23

By Tamberlyn Richardson
Jan 7, 2016; Houston, TX, USA; Houston Rockets guard James Harden (13) drives as he splits the defense of Utah Jazz forward Chris Johnson (23) and guard Raul Neto (25) in the second half at Toyota Center. Rockets won 103 to 94. Mandatory Credit: Thomas B. Shea-USA TODAY Sports
Jan 7, 2016; Houston, TX, USA; Houston Rockets guard James Harden (13) drives as he splits the defense of Utah Jazz forward Chris Johnson (23) and guard Raul Neto (25) in the second half at Toyota Center. Rockets won 103 to 94. Mandatory Credit: Thomas B. Shea-USA TODAY Sports
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The game day preview breaks down the match between the Houston Rockets and Utah Jazz.

Knowing I’ve said this repeatedly this season it may be starting to sound redundant, however this is the most important game the Houston Rockets have played this season. Entering the contest the Rockets are clinging to the final playoff seed, and sitting directly behind them are the Utah Jazz literally a half game back. Therefore the winner of tonight’s game will finish the night remaining in the eighth seed.

The Details

Venue: Vivint Smart Home Arena, Salt Lake City, Utah

Game Time: 9:00 PM EST – 8:00 PM CT

TV: NBA League Pass and ROOT

Radio: 790 AM and KZNS

Recent History:

Walking Wounded:

Notably the two sites I check for injury updates aren’t similar in their reports. CBS doesn’t even list Motiejunas as being out and calls Josh Smith a game time decision whereas Rotoworld has Smith out tonight, so I took my best guess:

Jazz:

Rockets:

  • Josh Smith   Game time decision
  • Marcus Thornton – of the 2 players returning it is Thornton who is listed as out for an additional 2 days (Feb 25)
  • Donatas Motiejunas – interestingly the player who was traded and returned as being faulty is not listed on the injury list
  • Sam Dekker is still recovering from back surgery but nearing a return, listed as available for March 1

Projected Starters:

Jazz: Raul Neto, Rodney HoodGordon HaywardDerrick Favors,  Rudy Gobert 

Rockets: Patrick Beverley, James HardenCorey Brewer, Trevor Ariza, Dwight Howard,

Key Reserves:

Jazz: Trevor BookerTrey Burke, Joe Ingles,  Trey Lyles, Jeff Withey

Rockets:  Jason TerryClint Capela, K.J. McDaniels, Montrezl Harrell

Rockets at Jazz
Rockets at Jazz

Keys to Winning:

Get off to a strong start: The Jazz have been one of the hottest teams in the past month and won’t go away easy

Ball and Player Movement Is Critical: Looking at the stat comparison it’s noteworthy the Jazz are among the league best at limiting scoring in the paint and overall field goal percentage.

Take advantage of the intangibles: One of the key areas the Rockets have an edge in is forcing turnovers and doing intangibles, therefore they need to force the Jazz’ hand in that regard.

Win the rebound battle: The Rockets have the edge on the defensive boards and the Jazz have the edge offensively.

Just win! Enough of this inconsistent up-down, up-down, up-down season. Fight through the lack of bodies available and adversity to rediscover the team of a season ago who won in spite of everything!

More from Space City Scoop

The Pick:

The odds makers have the Jazz favored by 4.5 points with an over – under of 203.5 with the action slightly favoring the Rockets.

Prediction:

The Jazz are 7-3 in their past 10 games and 8-2 in their past 10 at home. Sitting directly behind the Rockets having lost the first two meetings vs. the Rockets and just by half a game back of them the Jazz are motivated to take this game.

I’m not sure how the return of Motiejunas and Thornton will affect the overall mindset of Houston, but they can’t afford to have anymore off games. Still, I have a feeling Utah will power through tonight based on their commitment to defense and the fact they have demonstrated consistency in playing defense all year.

Jazz by 5

For more exciting news and stories on the Utah Jazz visit our affiliate FanSided site: Purple and Blues

Next: Jazz Team Preview - Return To Old School Jazz

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Make sure you catch up on our entire Team Preview Series, our Houston Rockets Player Profile Series as well as our SCS Round Table Sessions to help you get through the early season. Start your morning with SCS Rocket Science Daily and visit us throughout the day to keep abreast of all your Houston Rockets news and updates.

Next: What's next for Ty Lawson and the Houston Rockets

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