NBA Starting Lineups and Match Prediction: Utah Jazz vs Houston Rockets - Game 1
The Rockets enter the series with potentially vital homecourt advantage, and they will be confident that the veteran pairing of Chris Paul and James Harden will guide them all the way to the NBA Finals. Mike D'Antoni will also expect significant contributions from P.J. Tucker and Clint Capela, although the Rockets' lack of depth could come back to haunt them.
Meanwhile, the Jazz will be looking to avenge last season's 4-1 second-round defeat to the Rockets, and the likes of Donovan Mitchell and Rudy Gobert have continued to improve over the last 12 months. Utah has the NBA's second-best defense and the presence of Gobert and Derrick Favors could help to slow down James Harden's incredible scoring ability.
Despite being among the worst-hit teams in terms of injuries throughout the regular season, the Rockets enter their first-round matchup against the Jazz with a fully fit roster.
Meanwhile, the Jazz head into the game with a number of injury concerns. Dante Exum is expected to be out for the entire series after undergoing surgery to repair a patellar tendon. Kyle Korver hasn't played since March due to a knee injury, and he joins Ricky Rubio (quad injury) as a doubt heading into tonight's game.
Predicted Houston Rockets starting lineup:
Eric Gordon (F), P.J. Tucker (F), Clint Capela (C), James Harden (G), Chris Paul (G)
Predicted Utah Jazz starting lineup:
Joe Ingles (F), Derrick Favors (F), Rudy Gobert (C), Donovan Mitchell (G), Royce O'Neale (G)
Whatever way you look at it, this is a bad matchup for the Rockets. Gobert's presence will impact Harden's ability to put up huge numbers, and if Donovan Mitchell is on form, the Jazz's offense should be able to outscore the Rockets. Expect the Jazz to steal Game 1 of the series.