Houston Rockets vs. Utah Jazz preview

Troy Taormina-US PRESSWIRE

The Rockets take on the hated Utah Jazz tonight in Salt Lake City.

Houston is playing the second of a back-to-back on the road.

Utah had a day off and are playing at home.

The NBA's "Let's Screw the Rockets Over" Tour continues tonight in Salt Lake City. Because why not, am I right?

I'd also like to welcome Dave back to the previews, as he'll certainly be reading this and wanting to know where THE Jazz picture is. Unfortunately, the Jazz fans didn't give that photo to Getty, so I can't use it.

By the way, if you haven't read Xiane's piece on the Rockets' inexperience, please do so now. Seriously, stop reading immediately and get over there. Then come back please.

Tip off is at 8pm CST.

Matchups:

Point Guard: Jeremy Lin vs. Mo Williams

This isn't so much a point guard preview as a general observation. In the last couple of years, both the Rockets and Jazz have essentially completely turned over their rosters. There's a few guys in Utah who have been there for more than a couple of seasons, but mostly they are a brand new team this year, much like they were last year.

The Rockets are the same way. Only Patrick Patterson has been here for more than one year. Familiarity is so important, and neither of these teams have gotten off to fast starts, and this harks back to Xiane's piece. Neither Lin nor Williams were with their current teams last year.

Advantage: Rockets

Shooting Guard: James Harden vs. Randy Foye

We've seen Randy Foye before.

He's that guy with the abysmal shooting percentage hitting every three pointer against the Rockets. I am sure that this is why the Jazz got him.

Advantage: Rockets

Small Forward: Chandler Parsons vs. Paul Millsap

In their last contest, Ty Corbin went to what I call "The double bell curve lineup." He starts both Williams and Foye, who are really combo guards. Then, he plays his three "bigs," (Millsap, Favors, and Jefferson), who are really all power forwards (and Millsap is a bit undersized for that description).

It's an interesting lineup in that it causes matchup problems on defense. Marcus Morris may have to play a lot more as a three tonight, and Cole Aldrich and Greg Smith may get a lot of burn if foul trouble happens.

Remember, Millsap is the mind Rocket killer. He's a career 30% three point shooter, but against the Rockets it's more like 130%.

Advantage: Jazz

Power Forward: Patrick Patterson vs. Derrick Favors

For years there have been players who were highly regarded coming out of high school and were able to turn that into a pro career after one year of college. For every Kyrie Irving or Kevin Durant, there have been Brendan Wrights and Jerryd Baylesses. Then, you have the bigs who are projects. Teams know that they won't get a great player for a year or two, but if progress is maintained they might have an above average big in a few years, which puts you in an enviable position.

In recent years, guys like Favors and Greg Monroe have bucked the previous trend set by guys like Hasheem Thabeet. Well, the Jazz played their cards right with Favors, who is coming into his own as an NBA player, and they are hoping for more progress from Enes Kanter, whom I'm sure will be talking with Omer Asik about the old country.

Advantage: Rockets

Center: Omer Asik vs. Al Jefferson

This is the big matchup in tonight's game. Asik will have to avoid foul trouble and rebound the ball well since the Jazz will send waves of people at the rim for offensive boards.

Jefferson has always had the Rockets' number too. Seems like the Jazz really look for that quality in its players.

Advantage: Jazz

Bench

Rockets: Toney Douglas, Carlos Delfino (?), Marcus Morris, Greg Smith

Jazz: Marvin Williams, DeMarre Carroll, Enes Kanter, Jamaal Tinsley, Gordon Hayward

Advantage: Jazz

Prediction: Rockets too tired, lose 108-91.

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