Rockets News

Houston Rockets: What to watch for against the Utah Jazz

By Michael Knight
SALT LAKE CITY, UT - MAY 6: James Harden #13 of the Houston Rockets handles the ball against the Utah Jazz during Game Four of the Western Conference Semifinals of the 2018 NBA Playoffs on May 6, 2018 at the Vivint Smart Home Arena in Salt Lake City, Utah. NOTE TO USER: User expressly acknowledges and agrees that, by downloading and or using this photograph, User is consenting to the terms and conditions of the Getty Images License Agreement. Mandatory Copyright Notice: Copyright 2018 NBAE (Photo by Melissa Majchrzak/NBAE via Getty Images)
SALT LAKE CITY, UT - MAY 6: James Harden #13 of the Houston Rockets handles the ball against the Utah Jazz during Game Four of the Western Conference Semifinals of the 2018 NBA Playoffs on May 6, 2018 at the Vivint Smart Home Arena in Salt Lake City, Utah. NOTE TO USER: User expressly acknowledges and agrees that, by downloading and or using this photograph, User is consenting to the terms and conditions of the Getty Images License Agreement. Mandatory Copyright Notice: Copyright 2018 NBAE (Photo by Melissa Majchrzak/NBAE via Getty Images)
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The Houston Rockets have one more game without their star point guard tonight as they face the Utah Jazz in Houston. Can they survive his absence against an elite team?

The Houston Rockets are off to a slow start to the season. They have dropped two of their first three games and are facing another top-tier team tonight.

The Jazz are coming in off a loss, though, to the Memphis Grizzlies a couple nights ago. They have been very solid so far in the new year, however, despite their 1-2 record. They nearly took down the Warriors in their second game and have shown some serious potential.

The Rockets will be without Chris Paul for one more game after he was suspended in an altercation against the Lakers. He missed last game and the team lost to the Clippers in a close one. James Ennis is also out with a hamstring strain.

Let’s look at the predicted starters for tonight, because it is quite different:

Starting 5s

Rockets

James Harden/Eric Gordon/Michael Carter-Williams/P.J. Tucker/Clint Capela

Jazz

Ricky Rubio/Donovan Mitchell/Joe Ingles/Derrick Favors/Rudy Gobert

What to watch for

There is quite a bit to digest about tonight’s game. Let’s start with the starters. Eric Gordon will get the start once again in the place of CP3 as he always excels in that role. The surprise, though, is Michael Carter-Williams starting instead of someone else, as MCW has struggled so far this season.

Michael Carter-Williams to start with Ennis out.

— Jonathan Feigen (@Jonathan_Feigen) October 23, 2018

Let’s get one more negative out of the way before we move onto the positives. The Rockets have struggled big time in the rebounding category, especially getting ones on the defensive end. If that struggle continues, Rudy Gobert is going to destroy tonight. Let’s hope the Rockets come ready to get some boards.

On a more positive note, it’ll be fun to see how James Harden plays tonight. The Jazz are a team that the Beard likes to destroy, as he dropped a clean 56 points against them last year in a game that CP3 did not play in due to injury. Can he keep the magic going against them?

As I alluded to earlier, Eric Gordon almost always shows up when he’s in the starting lineup. If he can continue to play well while James Ennis/Chris Paul are out, he may find himself eventually starting in that small forward position. Coach D’Antoni certainly liked that lineup during training camp and it could eventually become a reality.

Carmelo Anthony will likely get quite a few minutes tonight and will probably be guarded by players that could have trouble checking him. Let’s hope he can get his offense on track tonight, as the Rockets will need it.

Clint Capela dominated Rudy Gobert in the playoffs last year. Can he do it once again in their first matchup of the year? The two centers always have fun games against each other, and that should be no different in 2018-19.

Next. 3 takeaways from Week 1

Be sure to tune in tonight! The game is at 7:00 CT on AT&T SportsNet SW!

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