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Defensive Rotation Is Key In Game 2 For Jazz

James Harden #13 of the Houston Rockets shoots over Rudy Gobert #27 of the Utah Jazz in the first quarter during Game One of the first round of the 2019 NBA Western Conference Playoffs between the Houston Rockets and the Utah Jazz at Toyota Center on April 14, 2019 in Houston, Texas. (Photo by Bob Levey/Getty Images)

SALT LAKE CITY, Utah – Leading up to Game 2 of the best-of-seven first round series with the Utah Jazz and the Houston Rockets, the Jazz Notes podcast hosts agree that the defensive rotation is key to getting a victory in Game 2.

Hema Heimuli Jr. and Dallen Graff talked about the bench needing to step up for Utah as well as putting the clamps down defensively against a powerful Houston offense.

The Jazz are coming off of a disappointing 122-109 loss in Game 1 on Sunday in Houston.

Defensive Rotation

A lot of the criticism is how easy the Rockets were getting looks at the rim and scoring points.

“Rudy Gobert was not himself,” Heimuli said. “He was getting caught out of positions and defending people that he wasn’t supposed to be defending,” he added.

James Harden in particular was shredding Utah’s defense and forced the Jazz to make some defensive decisions and made them pay.

“It seemed like Harden was targeting Gobert,” Graff said. “Whether it was looking for the lob to [Clint] Capela or dishing out to P.J. Tucker,” he added.

Stopping Harden and the lob to Capela is a tall task for any NBA team, but when they take those away, Heimuli knows what Houston does next.

“You take away the lane and you take away Capela and what is left? The corner three-point shot,” he said.

The Rockets made 15-of-41 from the three-point line in Game 1, while the Jazz hit just 7-of-27.

Bench Play Must Improve

Going into Game 1, Graff said that the key for Utah to get a win on Sunday was that Utah’s bench needed to play well.

“Nine points for Jae Crowder off the bench and on just 1-of-9 shooting is not good,” he said.

Crowder’s struggled from downtown as well, hitting just 1-of-7 from the perimeter in Game 1.

“Jae Crowder’s problem is if he is in a slump, he is going to try and shoot himself out of it,” Heimuli said.

The Rockets bench outscored the Jazz bench 35-18 in Game 1.

Game 2 is on Wednesday at 7:30 p.m. on TNT.