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Houston Rockets

Houston Rockets vs Utah Jazz: Game preview, live stream, TV channel, start time

James Harden and Donovan Mitchell
James Harden and Donovan Mitchell (Getty Images)

Who's Playing

Matchup: Houston Rockets vs Utah Jazz

Records: Rockets (11-12); Jazz (12-13)

Where to Watch

Date: Friday, Dec. 7

Time: 9:00 AM IST

TV: Sony Ten1

Location: Vivint Smart Home Arena, Salt Lake City, UT

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Sure Not Now

Game Preview

Last season, the Houston Rockets were one game away from making the NBA Finals while the Utah Jazz ripped off 29 of their last 35 regular season games and stunned the Oklahoma City Thunder in the first round of the 2018 Playoffs.

Given their success last year, they had set high expectations for themselves for the 2018-19 season not only in their minds but in the minds of their fan bases as well. They could still save their respective campaigns but so far, both teams have underperformed, surely even in their minds.

For the Rockets, the problem is their depth and defense, both of which are still very fixable.

Last season, Houston was 7th in defensive rating but that ranking has dropped to 25th for this current season. Through 23 games, they have restricted their opponents to under 100 points just four times, going 2-2 in those games. Yes, the Western Conference has gotten tougher and it shows most on the Rockets' record.

At this time, last year, through 23 games, they were 19-4 while this season, they are struggling to remain at or above .500. While their defense is struggling, their depth or lack thereof is not allowing their offense to consistently lead them to wins. A lot of it has got to do with the team losing out on Trevor Ariza in free agency (signed with Phoenix Suns) and to make matters worse, their summer acquisitions headlined by Carmelo Anthony have failed to deliver what they expected.

Their defense could gradually rise up the rankings with the return of their assistant coach, and defensive wizard, Jeff Bzelick and as the roster continues to get familiar with the current personnel. At the same time, it wouldn't be a bad bet to trust General Manager Daryl Morey to pull off some moves before the mid-season trade deadline to help the team.

For the Jazz, could the slow start to the season have been just a case of road woes?

Utah has played 16 of their 25 games away from home and they actually haven't done so bad, going 9-7. Actually, it's the team's performance at home at the Vivint Smart Home Arena. Given the elevation of Salt Lake City, the Jazz should have among the top home court advantages in the league.

But, so far this season, they have gone just 3-6 in nine games at home including a 33-point defeat at the hands of the Indiana Pacers. A surprising stat from their season so far is their defense. Utah was the best defense last season with a rating of 102.9 but right now for this season, they are ranked just 12th (107.5) which doesn't help when their offensive rating is the 23rd best (106.3) in the league.

To their luck, the team has eight of their next twelve games in December at home. That should help the team steady their ship and it all begins with this contest against the Rockets.

Last Time They Played

Date: Nov. 22, 2018

Score: Rockets 89, Jazz 100

Rockets: James Harden - 29 points, 7 assists, and 5 rebounds on 52.6% shooting

Jazz: Donovan Mitchell - 38 points, 7 assists, and 5 rebounds on 56.0% shooting

Box Score

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