The Houston Rockets could be headed toward a rematch with the defending champion Golden State Warriors. But first, they have to take care of another rematch in the first round of the 2019 NBA Playoffs. Fourth-seeded Houston opens against a familiar and stubborn foe in the No. 5-seed Utah Jazz, who gave them fits in the playoffs last season. Game 1 takes place on Sunday night at 9:30 p.m. ET from the Toyota Center. The stylistic contrast features Houston’s second-rated offense, led by James Harden, going up against Utah’s rugged second-ranked defense. Both clubs come into the NBA Playoffs 2019 with momentum, as Houston won 11 of its last 14, while Utah finished with a 13-3 mark in its final 16 regular-season contests. Houston is a 6.5-point favorite and the over-under for total points scored is 212.5 in the latest Jazz vs. Rockets odds, down sharply from an open of 219. Before you lock in your Rockets vs. Jazz picks, listen to what the SportsLine Projection Model has to say.

The model, which simulates every game 10,000 times, is crushing its NBA picks. It entered Week 26 of the 2018-19 NBA season with a sterling 292-234 record on all top-rated picks, returning more than $4,000 in profit to anybody following them. And it has been particularly red-hot on its A-rated NBA picks against the spread, entering the 2019 NBA playoffs on a strong 76-59 run. Anybody who has followed it is way up.

Now, the model has dialed in on Rockets vs. Jazz. We can tell you the model is leaning over, and it’s also generated a strong against the spread pick that hits over 60 percent of the time. That pick is only available at SportsLine.

The model knows the Rockets will be determined to make fast work of this series in order to prepare for a likely second-round meeting with the top-seeded Golden State Warriors. They had hoped to avoid seeing the defending champs so soon, but ended up with the No. 4 seed following a one-point loss to the Oklahoma City Thunder in the regular-season finale.

However, Houston learned the hard way last season about taking the Jazz for granted. Utah won a game in Houston to steal home-court advantage and put pressure on the Rockets, who responded with a pair of strong performances in Salt Lake City and advanced in five games. But an injury to Jazz star Donovan Mitchell likely prevented a longer series.

The Rockets boast the NBA’s second-rated offense and James Harden has made a case for repeating as MVP. He is averaging 36.1 points, 6.6 rebounds and 7.5 assists. He had 43 points and 12 rebounds in a 125-98 win at Utah on Feb. 2 the last time the clubs met.

Even so, Houston isn’t guaranteed to cover the Rockets vs. Jazz spread in Game 1 on Sunday against a Utah team that came on strong as the NBA Playoffs 2019 approached.

Utah’s defense has had success slowing down the Rockets. Houston scored just 99 points per 100 possessions against the Jazz, its lowest output against a Western Conference opponent. The first three meetings between these teams ended up accounting for three of Houston’s eight worst offensive outputs of the season. 

Derrick Favors has been one of the top post defenders in the NBA this season, but his health could be an issue in this series. He missed four of the last five regular-season games because of back spasms. If he is limited, the Jazz will have to go to a smaller lineup in order to match Houston’s personnel, but will sacrifice quite a bit on the defensive end. 

The Jazz are No. 4 in the NBA in scoring defense at 106.5 points per game and No. 9 with 46.4 rebounds per contest. Favors had 24 points and 10 rebounds in a 118-91 victory over the Rockets in December.

Who wins Jazz vs. Rockets? And which side of the spread hits in over 60 percent of simulations? Visit SportsLine now to find out which side of the Jazz vs. Rockets spread you should be all over Sunday, all from the model that’s up more than $4,000 on top-rated NBA picks this season.



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