Two of the hottest teams in the NBA will square off on Monday night at the Jazz home court Vivint Smart Home Arena.
This is the 4th and final game between the two. The Rockets took all previous 3 games. And, they did it in a very convincing fashion. The other stats - meaningless or not - we are fed with have to do with the Rockets playing the second of B2B games. And the third in 4 nights. So do the Jazz - who are not playing B2B, but do play the third game in 4 nights. So, more or less we're in equal situation here. All we have to decide is - will the Rockets show up for yet another win and will go for the record winning February? Or, the NO SWEEP button will be lighted up by the NBA and the refs will make sure the Rockets obey?
The line for this game can be argued as too short for the Rockets to cover? Or overblown into the Rockets being favorites despite the Jazz winning 12 of it's last 13 games? While the Rockets are in a midst of a 12 game winning streak? And, after all that we have to remember it is Monday - the day of "expect the unexpected".
There are few keys to this game. Capela is one of them. In the games he scores 15 or more points - the Rockets are 20-2. So, besides stopping Harden - the Jazz will have to deal with Capela as well. Here is when the refs can be instrumental attaching Capela early fouls and forcing D'Antoni to bench him fro longer periods than he cares to. On the other side of the court - it remains to be seen whether Rick Rubio can regain his form before hip injury.
My conclusion here is that the game will be decided by the refs more than the players and therefore Harden and the Rockets will have to run away early in the game making the refs impact hardly felt. Will they succeed to do with the hard playing Jazz defense? Yes, if the refs will be at least consistent calling more or less the same amount of defensive fouls on both sides. Otherwise - if they will let the Jazz defend hard and will whistle every physical encounter by the Rockets defense - the game will go Jazz's way.
The Jazz are good. But, not in the Rockets league. I believe the Rockets will lose to much lower team that is not going to make the playoffs. But, not to the Jazz although the Jazz have embarrassed the reigning NBA Champions - the Warriors - 129-99 here.