SUMMARY: The Rockets look every bit of last year’s Rocket and dominate game 1 over the Utah Jazz.
- Big picture thought before we start the in-game analysis. The biggest fear is that the Rockets who finished the year 20-4 after Clint Capela came back are the Rockets of last year. A dominating offense, the MVP in control and a defense that is good enough and disciplined enough to be top 10 making them the same team that was a few made threes away from the title last year. There is a chance the Rockets are every bit the 60+ win team they were a year ago.
- The Jazz offense is a much bigger issue than its defensive plan. Let’s play math. The Rockets offense averages about 114 pts per 100 possession. If the Jazz have a good defensive night they could probably hold the Rockets to about 107 points per 100 possessions. Thru 3 quarters tonight the defensive rating was about 112 or so. The Jazz offense against the Rockets this year was below 100 pts per 100 possessions and was again tonight. The Jazz defense has no chance to be good enough to keep the Jazz in the game unless the offense plays better.
- The Rockets switch all picks and handoffs. This means it is hard for the Jazz to play their regular advantage basketball system. The Jazz offense is based on getting an advantage and then continuing to move the ball and widen the advantage. It is why the Jazz have the best shot quality of any team in the NBA and why they get the most open looks. However, that system doesn’t work against the Rockets switching defense.
- The other aspect is the Jazz shot terribly. The disconcerting part is they shot terribly against the Rockets again. The Jazz shot quality tonight was right on their season average but they shot 10% below what an average shooter would have shot with these shots. The Jazz 3rd, 6th and 8th worst shooting nights are all against the Rockets. No other team is in that group twice and the Rockets are 3 times. Is this because of something the Rockets do or is it a coincidence.
- In the regular season the Jazz went 18 of 85 on above the break 3 point shots against the Rockets. Tonight the Jazz were 4 of 15. They are now 22 of 100 on above the break 3s in 5 games against the Rockets. 22% that is awful.
- The Jazz took 47% of their shots at the rim. That is great. You would like more threes but overall they took 79% of their shots as rim or threes. That is very good shot distribution.
- The Jazz usually have a 6 point advantage with shot distribution on an average night, in this series they have no advantage because Houston has good shot distribution. This is a significant problem.
- Defensively the Jazz played James Harden with a strong shade right. You do this because you want to prevent him taking a three and you want to prevent from fouling him. The last two games the Jazz played the Rockets James Harden had he 43 points and shot 15 free throws and had 47 points and shot 16 free throws. Tonight he had 3 free throws, shot 11 of 26 and had 29 points. This is one of his least good offensive nights of the year.
- What makes Harden amazing is he still dominated the game. He had 11 assists. 5 of them went to Capela for dunks and 3 went to PJ Tucker for corner 3s. The Rockets got 14 corner threes tonight and only made 5.
- The Rockets didn’t shoot the ball that well tonight. They were 25 of 32 at the rim which is a really high.
- When Harden drives Gobert is supposed to come out and deny his drive. He did a great job of this. At one point Harden missed 13 of 17 shots. The problem was the weak side guy is supposed to come into Harden. However, the Rockets, who are very well coached as well, moved Capela all over the place so he wasn’t always coming from the same spot and the same angle and this made it hard for the weakiside guy to find him. In addition, their were times where the Rockets changed their spacing and their was no one on the far side to come help and other times were they caused confusion. The other guys are really good too.
- There will be a lot of talk about this defense but thru three quarter the Rockets offensive rating was a 110.7. The Jazz on the season are #2 defense in the NBA at 4.7 points better than league average. The Rockets were 114.8 for the season. Therefore, thru three quarters the Jazz defense was about what you should anticipate. The offense however was a 95.9 compared to the Jazz average of 110 and the Rockets are an average defense.
- Rockets seemed very dialed into the Jazz beating them last year in game 2. Would be surprised if they blinked.
LOCKED ON JAZZ – Why so passive? How Harden blows up the Jazz defense? Donovan Mitchell 2nd year playoffs
The Utah Jazz are getting ready for Game #3 v. the Houston Rockets. David Locke, the radio voice of the Utah Jazz and Jazz NBA Insider takes a look at why the Jazz looked so passive in Game 2 in Houston. Then Locke digs into what makes Harden so unique and why he has blown up the #1 defense in the NBA. Locke also takes a look at what other 2nd year players like Donovan Mitchell have done in their 2nd year playoff season.
LOCKED ON JAZZ – How good is Houston? Jazz can’t hit open shots. Facebook Live questions
The Utah Jazz have been blown out in both of the first two games of their first round series with the Houston Rockets. David Locke, the radio voice of the Utah Jazz and Jazz NBA Insider tries to figure out what has happened and why it has happened. Plus, it is a live show so Locke takes your questions from Facebook live.
EMPTYING THE NOGGIN – Opening stretch tells the strory
Summary: The Jazz start poorly, the Rockets pounced and Harden was amazing it all lead to a Rockets blow out of the Jazz.
- The Jazz opened the night turning the ball over on 4 of their first 8 possessions. The Rockets scored 10 points on those 4 turnovers and that would tell the story of the night. The Jazz trailed 12 to 4 at the first time out.
- Then Harden went nuts. He is incredible. He never misses a read. In Game 1 the Jazz took away the step back and free throws. In the first quarter he had as many step backs and as many free throws as he had all of the first game. I really have no idea how you are supposed to guard him, He was 5 of 11 on step back tonight. He makes those at 40%. You have to take that away but the only way to do that is to play him from behind and force him into a drive.
- He has become the perfect modern player. The league values the three. He can make it at nearly 40%. The league knows you can’t afford to have a 40% three point shooter take 15 to 20 threes a game so you have to play him in this strange manner to force him to drive. Harden would take 20 threes if you let him. No one has ever had his three point shooting step back coupled with his handle and his passing. This just destroys the defense. When you force him to drive he has the floater game and he reads the defense perfectly.
- The Jazz defense failed in transition tonight. According to cleaningtheglass the Rockets averaged 1.7 pts per transition and only .94 in the half court. The .94 is a little above average but the Rockets are usually much better than that in the halfcourt. They are the #2 halfcourt team in the NBA. So the Jazz halfcourt defense was actually ok tonight.
- The Jazz offense is where things should be most concerning. The Jazz were not able to score with regularity against the Rockets in the playoffs last year, they weren’t able to score against them in the regular season and they haven’t been able to score against them tonight.
- The Rockets offense averages about 116 pts per 100 possessions. Even if the Jazz have a great defensive night hey will be around 108 but the Jazz offense v. the Rockets all season has been below 1 point per possessions. Until that is fixed it is hard see a scenario where the Jazz defense can hold the Rockets offense down far enough to win a game.
- The talk around the Rockets is that they are a better team than a year ago. A year ago they won 65 games and were a Chris Paul hamstring or a glutton of missed 3s away from winning the title.
- The Jazz average .74 pts in the half court
- Rubio and Crowder are a combined 2 of 14 on open threes.
- The Jazz came into the night 22 of 100 on above the break three point shots v. the Rockets this year. It continued again tonight as the Jazz shot 6 of 27 on above the break 3 and some of those were late.
- The Jazz have lost the first two games by 52 points. The Rockets look to be capable of winning the title
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