Can the Jazz Actually Upset the Rockets?
Out of all the round 2 matchups in the NBA Playoffs, the Rockets-Jazz series looked the most lopsided. No way the Jazz could beat the Rockets, right? Well after game 1 ended the way we all expected it to with a relatively easy victory for the Rockets, game 2 shocked us all. The Jazz came out firing on all cylinders and upset the Rockets IN Houston 116-108. Most of us expected a clean sweep of the Jazz for the Rockets. With that changing, we should also change our outlook on the series.
Winning Game 2 is More Important than Winning Game 1 for Utah
Winning only game 1 or only game 2 means the same thing for the series from a numbers standpoint. Yet anyone with a brain knows that momentum is huge. A game 2 win in Houston is magnified since the Jazz take their talents back home for games 3 and 4. A home that they will be playing better in than on the road. Young guys especially play better on the road. Utah’s best player happens to also be the youngest guy on the team. Donovan Mitchell is the epitome of a stud. My rookie of the year pick if only first year players could earn it, Mitchell’s leading this team through the trenches. He’s averaging 26 points per game in these playoffs and a rookie isn’t supposed to be doing that. I predict an explosive game 2 at home from him whether Utah wins or loses.
Why did the Rockets Lose Game 2?
Being as good as they are, the Rockets can’t be no games at home unless their opponent is the Warriors. Although Houston was close at points in the game, it never felt like they were gonna win it. It was unfathomable that the Rockets were down by 19 at one point in the game. They lost this game for a few reasons. Mainly it was that they didn’t take Utah seriously one bit. It seemed almost as if they took the 8th seeded Timberwolves in the round prior more seriously than they did the Jazz. Teams know when they’re not being taken as a real threat and Utah let James Harden and company know. The other reason for the loss was a sloppy defensive effort. Early in that game fouls got called left and right. The fouls were legit too, it wasn’t like anybody was just getting calls. Most of them came at bad times too. Jae Crowder got fouled shooting a three and got a 4-point play opportunity. The stopping of the clock and additional points worked tremendously in Utah’s favor. Sloppy defense is not attested to underestimating an opponent, but instead of poor execution.
How the Jazz Can Upset the Rockets
Upsetting the top seed in the NBA is not easy, but there is one way the Jazz can do such a tall task. The Jazz must win both games 3 and 4 at home. If they don’t accomplish winning both home games, Utah has zero chance of winning this series. Clearly, winning even one of the home games will be extremely tough, but that’s their only solution to this series. Winning those games will give the Jazz a 3-1 lead in the series and put all the pressure on Houston. James Harden and Chris Paul are known to choke in the playoffs, so getting them in an elimination setting might be enough to get in their heads and cause them to lose. I still expect the Rockets to win this series in either 5 or 6 games, but the Jazz can in fact pull off the impossible upset.
-Brandon Black (Follow @bhblack02)