Houston Rockets: Analyzing favorable and unfavorable playoff matchups

Russell Westbrook James Harden (Photo by Tim Warner/Getty Images)
Russell Westbrook James Harden (Photo by Tim Warner/Getty Images) /
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Houston Rockets
HOUSTON, TEXAS – DECEMBER 31: James Harden #13 of the Houston Rockets shoots a three point basket over Jamal Murray #27 of the Denver Nuggets (Photo by Bob Levey/Getty Images) /

Favorable playoff matchups for the Houston Rockets

Denver Nuggets

Before the suspension of the 2019-20′ NBA season, the Nuggets and Rockets split their series 2-2. All four games came before the transition to the small-ball strategy, so analyzing the games will not provide much of a preview.

What we do know is that the Nuggets run a “tall-ball” lineup with Nikola Jokic captaining the team. While Denver does out-size Houston, the athleticism of superstar guards Russell Westbrook and James Harden should cause havoc with the constant switching. The creation of space on the floor by Houston should lead to more wide-open threes and big leads.

Utah Jazz

It seems like eliminating the Utah Jazz has been on the playoff checklist for the Rockets since 2018. If the match-up were to come into fruition this year, once again, then it may be more of the same for Salt Lake City.

The pairing of Mike Conley and Donovan Mitchell has not quite blossomed for the Jazz, meanwhile, Houston’s backcourt has the dynamic ability to take over a game. Going 2-0 against Utah before micro-ball in the regular season, Houston still has the advantage in the NBA bubble, due to the inconsistent play the Jazz have shown so far in seeding games.

Related Story. How the Rockets' defense has been clutch all year

The Jazz barely defeated the New Orleans Pelicans and suffered losses to the Los Angeles Lakers and Oklahoma City Thunder, which is a good sign for the Rockets.

Los Angeles Lakers

LeBron James and Anthony Davis are heavily regarded as the best duo in the NBA, and the argument against Houston is they are too small in comparison. The Rockets went 2-1 against the Lakers in the regular season, and have beaten a healthy Los Angeles team with small-ball.

The earlier the match-up takes place, the better for Houston because court general Rajon Rondo could be missing for Los Angeles, which could be fatal for a team that is already missing its best perimeter defender in Avery Bradley for the rest of the season. With role players like Robert Covington, Jeff Green and P.J. Tucker stepping up on defense and draining threes, the match-up favors Houston.

Next: Unfavorable matchups for Rockets