The Rockets have faired well against Utah’s tough defense this season
By Tevin Williams
The Utah Jazz have one of the best defenses in the NBA, but they weren’t able to slow down the Houston Rockets in the regular season.
The Houston Rockets swept their season series with the Utah Jazz 4-0 this season.
The Jazz hang their hat on defense. Utah finished the season second in defensive rating, placing just a tad behind the Boston Celtics. They have some decent perimeter defenders, but their big man in the middle is the real key to their defense.
Rudy Gobert, at 7-foot-1, is perhaps the best defender in the NBA. When a guard bravely drives down the lane in hopes of scoring an easy bucket, Gobert seems to swat or alter every shot that comes his way.
He’s the biggest reason Utah allows just 41.8 points in the paint per game, which ranks second in the NBA. Having Gobert in the paint gives Utah’s perimeter defenders the confidence to play tight defense on the perimeter. On the season, the Jazz allowed just 9.5 3-pointers per game, which ranks fifth in the NBA.
Despite their defensive dominance, Houston had no problems scoring on Utah in the regular season. In the team’s first meeting back on Nov. 5, James Harden went off for a then career high 56 points. The Rockets were on fire in Salt Lake City, out scoring the Jazz 137-110.
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When Houston returned to Utah on Dec. 18, they had similar success. Chris Paul lit up Utah for 18 points, 10 rebounds and 10 assists and Clint Capela finished with 24 points and a whopping 19 rebounds. The Rockets blew out the Jazz once again 120-99.
The Rockets also won both games in Houston by double digits, proving that no defense is good enough to slow them down. Houston averaged 116.2 points per game over their four meetings with Utah, which is a number that almost no one else can replicate.
This will be an exciting series featuring the NBA’s best offense against the NBA’s best defense. Luckily for Houston, they also have an elite defense. The Rockets finished with the sixth ranked defense in the regular season and they have the fifth best defensive rating so far in the postseason.
Next: Houston Rockets vs. Utah Jazz starting lineup comparison
Utah’s defense in definitely impressive, but it looks like they’ll be overmatched by Houston’s offense.