Prior to the start of the playoffs, I perceived that a first-round matchup against the Jazz would be more favorable for the Rockets than either San Antonio or Oklahoma City. The first two games of the series have proven just that. The Rockets have not broken much of a sweat as they have so far dominated the Jazz, taking a commanding 2–0 lead as they head to Salt Lake City.
Recap of the First Two Games
This series has not felt much of a series as Houston came out full throttle. Despite racing out to big leads in both games, the Rockets have had a problem coming out of the half, half-stepping and presenting opportunities for the Jazz to creep back into the game. But then Houston has revved up the intensity following a timeout and delivered knockout punches.
An area where the Rockets could get in trouble is on the boards, as Houston entered the postseason 29th in rebounding. Sure, the Rockets have been out-rebounded 89–88 so far in the first two games (Game 1; Game 2). But the effort and energy brought defensively and on the boards has been better in this series than in much of the regular season.
There was not much Houston could do wrong in the first two games, and they held serve at home. Now, with all the momentum in their favor, with the series shifting to Utah, the Rockets need to keep their foot on the Jazz’s throats with the intention of ending the series on Monday night in Game 4.
There really is not much to say other than that the Rockets got the matchup they wanted and are taking full advantage. That’s not a dig against the Jazz; as good and scrappy of a team as they are, they simply do not have the offensive firepower to match up with Houston. Usually the 4-vs-5 series is more evenly matched, because there is not much of a difference between the two teams. In this series, however, unless the Rockets lose a key player to injury or have an off night shooting the ball, the Jazz really have no chance.
While the Jazz search for answers to make this a competitive series, the Rockets aim to take a commanding 3-0 advantage and inch closer to their impending second-round date with the Warriors (sorry, Clippers). Game 3 is Saturday at 9:30 Central Time on AT&T SportsNet and ESPN; Game 4 is Monday at 9:30 on TNT and AT&T SportsNet. If the Jazz snatch a game, Game 5 will take place Wednesday night at Toyota Center with game time to be determined.