The most dominant team in the Western Conference in the very early part of the 2019 NBA playoffs has not been the defending champion Golden State Warriors. The Houston Rockets, who many believe pose a real threat to the back-to-back champs, have been the best team in the first round.

Houston has a 2-0 series lead over the Utah Jazz. The Rockets didn't simply defend their home court: they didn't even let the Jazz sniff a chance at stealing a win on the road..

Game 1 was a 32-point blowout as Houston cruised to a 122-90 victory. Game 2 wasn't much closer with the Rockets going up big early and winning 118-98.

The James Harden that performed like a top MVP candidate has shown up in the postseason. He’s averaging 30.5 points, 10.5 rebounds and 10.0 assists per game, thus far, and the guard has made 10 of his 23 three-point attempts.

If Harden is going to play like that again in Game 3, the Jazz will be in serious trouble. Utah hosts Houston Saturday night at 10:30 p.m. EDT, hoping to hold serve at home.

The betting line suggests that the Jazz have a more than reasonable chance to slow down the Rockets Saturday. The Jazz are 2.5-point favorites, according to OddsShark, and the total is 215.5.

There really wasn't a major gap between Houston and Utah in the regular season. The Rockets won three more games, but the Jazz had a better point differential. Utah won 50 games with a strong finish in the second half, looking like a team that could be dangerous in the playoffs.

The Jazz are built on their defense. They ranked second behind only the Milwaukee Bucks in the regular season by allowing 105.2 points per 100 possessions. Utah had the NBA's best defense over the final 15 games with a 103.6 defensive rating.

Houston was second during that stretch with a 104.5 defensive rating.

James Harden Rockets Jazz
James Harden #13 of the Houston Rockets goes up for a shot defended by Rudy Gobert #27 of the Utah Jazz in the second half during Game 2 of the Western Conference Semifinals of the 2018 NBA Playoffs at Toyota Center on May 2, 2018 in Houston. Tim Warner/Getty Images

Defensive Player of the Year candidate Rudy Gobert has been neutralized against the Rockets. Utah’s strategy to funnel Harden into the paint where Gobert is waiting for him has failed miserably. The Jazz have been outscored by 43 points in Gobert’s 65 minutes on the court.

It hasn't just been Harden that’s killed Utah. He's finding open shooters that are making shots and turning these games into one-sided affairs. Eric Gordon has made six of his 11 three-point attempts. PJ Tucker has gone seven-of-14 from behind the arc.

Utah's defense might be too good to give up 120 points in a must-win game at home, where they went 29-12 in the regular season. Houston is just three games above .500 on the road, and their role players probably won't perform as well over the next few games.

Expect the Jazz to have a much better performance and challenge the Rockets in a game that could come down to the wire, but it's hard not to take Houston as underdogs when they are playing this well and one of Utah’s most important players is not having a positive impact.

Prediction against the spread: Houston over Utah, 110-107