Rockets @ Jazz Game 4 Free Pick

By NBA

We took a bit of a bad beat, but one that I saw coming, when the Raptors made a run at the Cavaliers but failed to come all the way back, covering the spread in a loss.

I don’t lay anything bigger than -125ish in any of my write-ups here and while I was quite confident in Cleveland winning the game, I was less so about the Cavs covering 4.5. I hope you also took some on the moneyline.

I also lost with Utah on Friday night. The Jazz was a 4-point underdog in Game 3 and the Rockets blitzed it early and coasted in the second half.

Houston was desperate to get on in Utah and the Jazz might have come out a little loose after a win in Game 2; I expect those roles to reverse in Game 4, where the Jazz must win to guarantee another game in Salt Laker City and the Rockets have their home-court advantage back.

Between that thinking, and the extra point-and-a-half we’re getting with Utah, I’m keen on going back to the well and trying this thing again.

Free Pick

Chris Paul has been good in this series, but good hasn’t been any way to describe Chris Paul as a player, ever since he broke into this league.

He’s scoring about 18 points a game in the three games, but he’s shooting down around 40 percent. He’s also only averaging 5 assists per game, which means Utah has done a good job to this point at keeping him out of the middle.

Without Paul making plays, Houston’s offense has been more isolation-heavy. The Rockets’ defense was better, as expected, in Game 3, which led to more run-outs and easy looks on the offensive end. I don’t expect the Jazz to make things nearly as easy in this game.

That leaves James Harden. I believe if the Rockets are going to win this game, Harden has to go off like he did in Game 1. It’s entirely possible, but such a situation is what gives Utah the best chance to win.

It’s awfully tough to win consecutive games in Utah. Ricky Rubio might be back, too. He’s been running and doing drills before games and was recently upgraded to questionable tonight. I don’t care how many minutes he plays, having Rubio back would be a huge boost to the Jazz because it lessens the ball-handling responsibilities on Donovan Mitchell¬†and lets him just be a finisher for however many minutes Ricky can tough it out for.

It is easy to overreact to Game 3; in fact, the markets have. Houston looked great and Utah looked flat. Like I said in the open, I expect those roles to reverse tonight. If Utah doesn’t get this one at home, this series isn’t coming back. If the Jazz can regroup and play basketball like it can, there’s reason to believe this series can and will go the distance.

Free Pick: Utah +5.5


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