Utah Jazz 2017-18 Week Three Outlook, Predictions

LOS ANGELES, CA - OCTOBER 24: Ricky Rubio (Photo by Andrew D. Bernstein/NBAE via Getty Images)
LOS ANGELES, CA - OCTOBER 24: Ricky Rubio (Photo by Andrew D. Bernstein/NBAE via Getty Images) /
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MEMPHIS, TN – OCTOBER 28: PJ Tucker (Photo by Joe Murphy/NBAE via Getty Images)
MEMPHIS, TN – OCTOBER 28: PJ Tucker (Photo by Joe Murphy/NBAE via Getty Images) /

11/5 Utah at Houston

5:00 pm MT – AT&T SportsNet/League Pass

Opponent record: 5-2

Season series: Tied 0-0

Utah’s lone road game over the course of the next two weeks will come against likely the toughest opponent they’ll face during the stretch – the Houston Rockets. The reloaded Rockets were picked by many to be the second best team in the West behind the Golden State Warriors and with two potential Hall of Famers in the backcourt in Chris Paul and James Harden, it isn’t hard to see why.

The Rockets are off to a solid start as they’re undefeated against teams not named the Memphis Grizzlies and tipped off the season with an impressive come-from-behind win over the Golden State Warriors. Unfortunately for Houston, they’ve been without Chris Paul for all but the first game of the season as he deals with a knee injury, so his absence may very well limit them from reaching their ceiling for the time being.

Nevertheless, Eric Gordon has stepped up big time in Paul’s absence as the reigning Sixth Man of the Year is averaging 23.8 points per game through Houston’s first seven games of the season, second on the team only to superstar James Harden. The Rockets have also benefited from significant contributions from big man Clint Capela who’s averaging 14 points per game on an absurd 74.5 percent shooting from the field.

In other words, particularly with this game coming on the road where Utah has yet to win a game and has looked absolutely lifeless in terms of energy, this is going to be a tough game for the Jazz. However, it should be noted that Utah did fare extremely well against Houston last year as they won two of the three contests in relatively convincing fashion.

Not only that, but the fact that the Rockets have dropped both games so far this season to the Grizzlies who play a similar grind-it-out, defensive-focused style as the Jazz is another good sign. If Utah can match Memphis’ grit and slow Houston’s high-octane offense, Utah could very well come away with a big upset win and earn their first road victory of the year in statement fashion.

Unfortunately, until the Jazz show me a little more cohesion and energy on the road, I’m going to have a hard time pinning them as victors against a team such as the Rockets that figures to be one of the West’s elite teams. I certainly hope they prove me wrong and think that Utah will at least keep it close, but at the end of the day, Houston’s firepower will likely prevail.

My Prediction: Rockets Win

Final Score: Houston 112, Utah 104

Next: Utah Jazz vs. LA Lakers reactions: What went right/wrong?

Thus, given how mediocre the Jazz looked in their second week of the 2017-18 campaign, it’s only fitting that I pin them at a mediocre 2-2 for the upcoming week. Such a performance would keep them solidly at a .500 record of 5-5, which at this early juncture of the season wouldn’t be all that bad. If you recall last season, the Utah Jazz started out the year with a 7-8 record which included a discouraging four-game losing streak in mid-November before they started to turn things around in a big way.

It’s easy to get discouraged based on slow starts or early struggles, but I’m fully confident that head coach Quin Snyder and his savvy Utah Jazz team will be able to right the ship. Especially considering how easy Utah’s Week Four schedule appears, coming out of Week Three with a .500 record would be a good benchmark that should help lead them to heightened success in the not-so-distant future.