Houston Rockets (11-6) at Utah Jazz (10-8)
7 p.m., Vivint Smart Home Arena
After a nice win over the Minnesota Timberwolves, the Utah Jazz are back home to square off with the Houston Rockets Tuesday night.
The Rockets are 11-6 on the season, including 7-4 on the road following wins over the Sacramento Kings and the Portland Trail Blazers.
Houston is one of the elite offensive teams in the league since the arrival of new head coach Mike D'Antoni. One of his key moves to help the offense was to move James Harden to point guard. It is a move that has worked like a charm. Harden is having one of the best starts to his career with 28.9 points a game on a 54.2 effective field-goal percentage. While his scoring has been impressive, it's what he has done as a facilitator that has turned heads. He leads the league with 12.2 assists a night.
Charged with that responsibility of handling Harden will be Utah's George Hill. Like Harden, Hill has been key to the Jazz's early success. He is off to a career-best start averaging 21.2 points on a 62.9 effective field-goal percentage.
While Hill's offense has been impressive, it is what he can do on the defensive end against Harden that will make the difference.
The key to beating the Rockets isn't to slow Harden down but to force him to turn the ball over. While he already turns the ball over at a high rate (5.7 per game), it's on nights that he has a massive number of mistakes that the Rockets are vulnerable. In all but one of the Rockets' losses this season, he has turned the ball over at least six times, including 12 in a loss to the Raptors and eight in a loss to Atlanta Hawks.
That's where Hill comes in. He is a solid on-ball defender who can limit passing angles and force Harden into tough shots instead of easy passes for layups.