The Rockets cruised past the Jazz 122-90, the second-largest playoff win in franchise history, in Game 1 one of the first round of the NBA Playoffs.
The Rockets may have run the Jazz out of the Toyota Center in the final minutes of Sunday night’s series opener, but amazingly there are still a few areas that Houston can be better in for Game 2.
The first of which starts with the league MVP, James Harden
Harden finished with 29 points, 10 assists and 8 rebounds while being a +18 for the Rockets, which for any other player is a sensational game especially in the postseason, but Harden missed a few opportunities at more points as he missed six floaters throughout the course of the game (via ESPN).
The missed floaters were not needed in Game 1, but it appears that Utah’s defensive strategy will be to force Harden to drive to his right and have to rely on those shots to score points.
Of Harden’s missed floaters, none came from his left side.
As the series progresses, Harden’s floaters could be the factor that seals Utah’s fate. If Harden makes his floaters at a more efficient rate, there may not be anything for the Jazz to do to contain Harden.
The second is the shooting from P.J. Tucker and Danuel House Jr. whom shot a combined 6-for-17 from the three-point line, which again was done by Utah’s choice.
Though Tucker started off slow from three in the first quarter and was able to pick up his makes in the second quarter, and House had a strong stretch in the fourth quarter that helped put the game out of reach for Houston, many of the looks by both of these players were wide-open as the Jazz seem willing to concede open threes from these two players.
Again, these baskets were not needed for Game 1, but as Houston gets deeper into the postseason, the Jazz and any other team Houston may face will force both of these players along with the other rotational players to knock down shots instead of Harden and Paul.
As for “CP3”, he did his job as the maestro for the Rockets as Houston was able to build their lead on various occasions while Harden rested, Harden only played 33 minutes, but outside a nasty ankle-breaker on Rudy Gobert in which Paul missed the shot, he had a relatively quiet night.
Paul finished with 14 points and 7 assists but was 0-of-3 from three.
Paul was solid, but he is capable of more.
These areas that Houston can improve in are a bit nit-picky but are true nonetheless. With Houston’s aspirations as high as they are, the Rockets will have to clean up these areas to not only beat the Jazz but the heavyweights in the NBA.
Both Eric Gordon and Clint Capela played well as Gordon finished with 17 points and Capela had 16.
Gordon had struggled against the Jazz in the regular season, but his 17 points from Sunday night already surpassed his high in points scored in any of the four earlier meetings against Utah in the regular season.
When Gordon plays well, Houston’s offense thrives.
One final interesting note from Game 1, Gerald Green was the ninth man in the rotation for the Rockets, but was later replaced by Iman Shumpert in the fourth quarter. Neither player had much of an impact in the game, but who D’Antoni gives the nod to for Game 2 will be something to keep an eye on.
Game 2 between the Rockets and Jazz is on Wednesday night at the Toyota Center.