Game Day Preview: Houston Rockets vs Utah Jazz, Mar 23

Feb 23, 2016; Salt Lake City, UT, USA; Utah Jazz forward Gordon Hayward (20) is fouled by Houston Rockets center Dwight Howard (12) during overtime at Vivint Smart Home Arena. Utah won 117-114. Mandatory Credit: Russ Isabella-USA TODAY Sports
Feb 23, 2016; Salt Lake City, UT, USA; Utah Jazz forward Gordon Hayward (20) is fouled by Houston Rockets center Dwight Howard (12) during overtime at Vivint Smart Home Arena. Utah won 117-114. Mandatory Credit: Russ Isabella-USA TODAY Sports /

The Houston Rockets continue to be their own worst enemies in regards to seizing opportunities. Over the past 6 games they have 2 wins and those came against injury decimated Grizzlies team and a squeaker over the T-Wolves.

Worse while the Mavericks have been in free fall, the Grizzlies have been waging war with a severely depleted roster and the Blazers Damian Lillard appears to be wearing down the Rockets failed to capitalize. Houston had a prime opportunity to vault up the ladder ahead of these teams to a more friendly sixth seed or ideally fifth seed.  Instead they lost in the closing minutes for the second time in as many games to the Hawks and Thunder.

This brings the squad to the second game of a back to back series perhaps fittingly named since their backs are against the wall. A loss will find the Jazz leaping ahead of them and possibly drop them from the playoff ladder depending on the Mavericks versus Blazers outcome.

For their part the Jazz arrive having won 5 of their past 6 games and seem to be gelling at the perfect time. Suffice to say, tonight isn’t a nice to have win, its a must win situation!

The Game Day Preview breaks down the match:

The Details

Venue: Toyota Center, Houston, Texas

Game Time: 8:00 PM EST – 7:00 PM CT

TV: NBA League Pass and ROOT

Radio: 790 AM and KZNS or Sirius:216(Internet H:890/A:908)

Recent History:

Walking Wounded:


  • Alec Burks – ankle, out until mid March, though Quinn Snyder indicated it may be too late to bring him back
  • Dante Exum– knee, out for the season


Projected Starters:

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

Rockets: Patrick Beverley, James HardenTrevor Ariza, Donatas MotiejunasDwight Howard,

Key Reserves:

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

Rockets:  Jason TerryClint Capela,  Corey BrewerK.J. McDaniels, Montrezl Harrell

Jazz at Rockets Mar 23
Jazz at Rockets Mar 23 /

Keys to Winning:

Get off to a strong start: The Rockets can’t afford to fall behind early

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 Rockets are favored by a mere 1.5 points with an over – under of 199 and extremely heavy action on Houston early.


The Jazz are 5-1 in their last 6  games and of the bottom seeds 5 – 9 have been playing the best ball. Sitting directly behind the Rockets by just a half game whoever wins tonight will hold the 8 seed. Depending on what occurs between the Blazers and Mavericks the Rockets could very well find themselves on the outside looking in if they don’t take care of business.

The Rockets will look to gain the edge on the season series having won 2 of the 3 games played. Notably Harden is playing on a sore ankle, but still registered 40 minutes in the loss to the Thunder. On the opposition’s side Gordon Hayward is playing through the extremely painful plantar fasciitis, but vows it won’t stop him from producing.

With Gobert and Favors playing at a high level tonight will offer a solid test on the ever improving Motiejunas. Unfortunately, this game can’t be used as a litmus test, rather it needs to be one where the Rockets finall rise to the occasion and begin an extended win streak.

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

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: How to improve the Rockets next season

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