Jazz Must Stop Harden To Prolong Series

Apr 18, 2019, 5:28 PM | Updated: Apr 19, 2019, 2:49 pm
Utah Jazz center Ekpe Udoh (33) and Utah Jazz center Rudy Gobert (27) walk off the floor as the Uta...
Utah Jazz center Ekpe Udoh (33) and Utah Jazz center Rudy Gobert (27) walk off the floor as the Utah Jazz fall 118-98 to the Houston Rockets in game 2 of the NBA Western Conference playoffs at the Toyota Center in Houston Texas on Wednesday, April 17, 2019. The Rockets take a 2-0 lead. (Scott Winterton, Deseret News)
(Scott Winterton, Deseret News)

SALT LAKE CITY, Utah – The Utah Jazz have not been playing well to start the postseason and the Jazz Notes podcast is out to figure out why.

Hosts Zak Hicken and Trevor Allen took a dive into the numbers and came up with some theories to explain why the Houston Rockets have been dominant in the first two games of the opening round series.

The most obvious reason why Houston has completely outplayed the Jazz is the high level of play by the Rockets’ reigning league MVP, James Harden.

In Game 2, Harden was hot out of the gates, but that was largely due to a very slow start by the Jazz, who allowed Houston to take an early 20-9 lead.

“If you’re going to beat the Rockets, at least you have to get off to a great start,” said Allen.

While the Jazz trailed early, and by a lot, Allen wondered during the game if Utah would be able to come back like the LA Clippers did against Golden State the day before. Ultimately the Jazz weren’t anywhere close to pulling off the comeback win and lost in Game 2 by 20 points.

According to Hicken, the big problem that Utah is having on the offensive end is managing Houston’s switch-heavy defense. To combat that, the Jazz are relying on Donovan Mitchell to control isolation possessions and mismatches. So far, however, Mitchell has not been able to make a difference in either game this series.

Also concerning to Hicken is how poor the outside shooting has been. A big reason why the Jazz fell behind earlier was due to their poor shooting from outside. Both Houston and Utah took 13 3-point attempts in the first quarter. Houston drained six such shots, while the Jazz made just one.

With the series shifting back to Salt Lake City, both Hicken and Allen predict to see a different Jazz team. While it may be difficult to forecast the end result of the series, both hosts feel that Utah will win a game at home before going back to Houston for Game 5.

Game 3 between Utah and Houston will tip off Saturday at 8:30 p.m. at Vivint Smart Home Arena. The game will be broadcast on ESPN.

Throughout the Jazz’s playoff run, the Jazz Notes podcast will air daily episodes. Subscribe and listen anywhere podcasts are found. Episodes are also found in the podcasts section of KSLSports.com


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Jazz Must Stop Harden To Prolong Series