Published: Mon, April 15, 2019
Sports | By Juana Wells

Denver Nuggets: Inexperience, lack of Nikola Jokic prove costly in Game 1

Denver Nuggets: Inexperience, lack of Nikola Jokic prove costly in Game 1

The Utah Jazz hope to tie this series up before heading up for game three.

Harden paired 29 points with 10 assists and finished two rebounds shy of a triple-double to fuel the Rockets to a 1-0 series lead. The Utah Jazz are averaging 90 points on 39 percent shooting and allowing 122 points on 50.5 percent shooting. Utah holds opponents to 45.2 percent shooting from the field and 35.5 percent shooting from the arc. Still, Houston has won eight of their last 10.

The Jazz are No. 4 in the National Basketball Association in scoring defense at 106.5 points per game and No. 9 with 46.4 rebounds per contest. The Rockets' aggressive defense had snuffed out every action the Jazz attempted on the possession.

The San Antonio Spurs knew they needed to win at least one game in Denver if they were going to move on to the second round of the Western Conference Playoffs, and they wasted no time in picking up that W with a Game One road victory. 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.

The Jazz are 6-1 against the spread in their last seven road games against a team with a winning home record and 20-5-1 ATS in their last 26 games following a loss.

However, Houston learned the hard way last season about taking the Jazz for granted.

Donovan Mitchell #45 of the Utah Jazz and Joe Ingles #2 of the Utah Jazz seen on the court during the game against the Houston Rockets on February 2, 2019 at Vivint Smart Home Arena in Salt Lake City, Utah. The Jazz can certainly do a better job defending and will probably go back to defending straight up and possibly switching everything, but the Rockets are simply a bad matchup for the Jazz and there's no team in the league that can hang when everybody has the shot going.

Nuggets coach Mike Malone commended Popovich after the game as he hilariously compared their rings. Their last lead came with four minutes left in the first quarter but they trimmed a 12-point deficit to one in the closing minutes. With a near-impossible cover in James Harden, a savvy veteran point guard in Chris Paul who can play outside of Houston's mold by draining deadly mid-range jumpers, a solid big in the middle in Clint Capela who can devastate in the pick-and-roll, and a supporting cast made up of the likes of Eric Gordon and P.J. I'll eat the chalk again with the Rockets.

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