The Houston Rockets will attempt to finish off the Utah Jazz in Game 5 of the Western Conference semifinals, with the hosts currently leading 3-1 and having all the momentum after two wins in Utah.
The Rockets have been magnificent all year, compiling a 65 win regular season and finishing as the top seed in the Western Conference ahead of the mighty Golden State. There were questionmarks about Houston’s ability to play the same way in the playoffs, as their two stars (Paul, Harden) and their coach (D’Antoni) are all known as underperformers in the postseason. Nevertheless, the Rockets have been just fine so far, beating Minnesota 4-1 and dominating Utah to claim a 3-1 lead in this series.
The 5th seeded Jazz entered the semifinals after a brilliant win against Oklahoma City, knocking out the highly rated Thunder rather easily in 6 games. But the Rockets have proved to be a level too high for the Jazz so far. Utah had brief hopes after stealing Game 2 in Houston to even the series at 1-1, but they have been utterly outplayed in the next two games at home, losing those by 21 and 13 points respectively.Bet on Rockets v Jazz and claim a 100% (100 Eur) welcome bonus at Ohmbet now!
Team news: The Rockets are fully healthy, while the Jazz have big problems at the point guard position. Their starting PG Rubio (who played so well against the Thunder) has not played in this series and will not play tonight either. What`s worse, his backup Exum will also be unavailable in Game 5 after giving some decent production in the first 4 games.
The Jazz are not quite the same team without Ricky Rubio, and that was obvious in this series, as their offense struggled big time. The Rockets cruised in the three games they won (doing it by 14, 21 and 13 points), and Utah’s game 2 win seems to have been just an aberration – a mix of the Jazz playing well, the Rockets playing bad, and the Rockets treating the game a bit lightly.
The last two games were a clear indicative about the current gap between the two sides. Utah, an excellent home team, had such high hopes going back home with the series tied at 1-1 last week, but they were just taken apart by the Rockets, who were on top from start to finish in both games and gave no chance to their opponents.
With morale low and with problems in the backcourt, Utah is likely to lose the series tonight. Exum’s absence will be another issue for them – not the biggest, but they are now really shorthanded in the backcourt, as Exum gave them 15 solid minutes per game from the bench in Rubio’s absence.
The handicap is rather high at 12 points, but that`s not such a big gap for Houston to cover with their fast pace and 3 point shooting, and they actually covered this point spread in all of their three wins in the series. My tip is Houston to cover the -12 point (asian) handicap. Prediction: Houston Rockets – Utah Jazz 117 – 94.