The Utah Jazz are having a resurgent season currently sitting at 4th place in the Western Conference playoff race. While they likely won't catch the Rockets for the 3rd seed (5+ games back), a win in Houston on Wednesday night can keep the surging Clippers at bay.
The Jazz have a game lead over Los Angeles for the #4 seed in the West – a spot that is important because of home court advantage in the first round. Utah went only 5-5 over a 10 game stretch the past two weeks and it may be hard to right the ship in Houston where the Rockets are 23-8 this year. The Jazz aren't horrible on the road, however, sporting a 17-12 record away from Salt Lake City this season.
Houston has an outside chance at catching San Antonio, or possibly even the Warriors for the top 2 seeds in the Western Conference playoffs. Coach Mike D'Antoni may be content at standing pat in the third seed however in preserving energy not trying to make up the 7 and 5 game differences.
The Rockets have been hot post the All-Star break winning 4 out of their first 5 games since the weekend in New Orleans. They are 8-2 overall in their last 10, seemingly peaking at the right time of the season.
Jazz at Rockets March 8th Pick
Not only do the Jazz have to go to the Toyota Center to try and steal a win, they have to do so with their 3rd game in 4 nights. A trip to Sacramento, back home to face the Pelicans, and then back to Houston is not what Utah needs as they try to maintain home-court for the first round of the playoffs.
The Rockets, on the other hand, should be well rested. Houston is coming off a road game on March 6, but only 2+ short hours away in San Antonio. That being said, the Jazz have shown they match up well with Houston in their prior meeting this season, notching a 120-101 win in Utah back at the end of November.
There are no obvious trends pointing towards a total lean in this game so it's a decision on the side. Houston is hotter recently, playing great at home, and has the travel schedule benefit over Utah in this one. The Rockets are the play.