Jazz Must Win 3-Point Battle To Stay Alive Against Houston

Apr 19, 2019, 5:28 PM
Chris Paul #3 of the Houston Rockets shoots over Ricky Rubio #3 of the Utah Jazz in the first half ...
Chris Paul #3 of the Houston Rockets shoots over Ricky Rubio #3 of the Utah Jazz in the first half 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)
(Photo by Bob Levey/Getty Images)

SALT LAKE CITY, Utah – The nature of the NBA nowadays is that teams who take and make more 3-pointers usually win. That trend seems to be the case as the first part of the 2019 NBA playoffs have been played.

Prior to the games being played on Friday, the playoff teams that made more 3-pointers than their opponent had a combined record of 15-4.

It’s a simple formula, make more threes, win more games, but it’s been true of the first two games between the Utah Jazz and the Houston Rockets.

In both games this series, the Rockets have completely dominated the 3-point line against Utah. In Game 1, the Rockets made 15 3-pointers to just seven by Utah. In Game 2, they made even more, outgunning Utah with 17 triples to just eight by the Jazz.

Should that trend of the team with more triples winning more often than not hold true, the Jazz are in serious trouble of being bounced in the first round.

The truth is though, based on that statistical finding, the Utah’s matchup with the Rockets in the first round was a nightmare draw.

Matchup Problems

The Rockets ended the regular season averaging an NBA-best 16.1 made 3-pointers per game, nearly three triples more than the second-best team, the Milwaukee Bucks, who made 13.5 3-pointers per game.

The Jazz were an above average team with 12.9 3-pointers per game, which was tied for ninth best in the league, but Houston’s effective from downtown, especially behind one of the most dangerous shooters in the world in James Harden, creates all kinds of problems for Utah.

However, the Jazz have shown this season that they are one of the best teams in the league at defending the three. Their 9.8 triples allowed per game was the second lowest rate in the NBA during the regular season.

But after all, shooting from deep can be a manner of who’s hot and who’s not. Right now, the Jazz are ice cold, with several key shooters shooting way below their season and career averages. One of their most proficient weapons, Kyle Korver, has taken just on 3-point attempt in two games, as one example of Utah’s current struggles.

Cold Shooting Has Hurt Houston Before

Last season, Houston was also the best 3-point shooting team in the NBA but saw their abilities from deep vanish at the most critical time. In their Game 7 loss in the Western Conference Finals to the Golden State Warriors, they missed an NBA-record 27 consecutive shots from beyond the arc. Houston lived by the three and died by the three as a bad night from deep cost them a trip to the NBA Finals.

It’s possible that the Jazz could wake up and start hitting shots from deep. It’s also possible that the Rockets could lose their way as well and have another cold stretch, this time in the 2019 playoffs.

For Utah’s season to continue past the first round of the playoffs, the Jazz will need to play much better from the 3-point land.

Game Info

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

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