Houston is the top seed in the Western Conference while the Jazz come in as the 5th seed. While it's a stinging assessment for a team that won 65 games in the regular season and has made strides in improving their defense, the Rockets may have very well been playing in first gear.
The first major upset of the 2018 NBA Playoffs occurred Wednesday night at Toyota Center. If it wasn't for their free throw shooting, the Rockets may have been out of the game earlier than they actually were.
Afterward, an officer reprimanded the fan, telling him to "stay away, get back to your seat", before the shockingly insulted victim of phone-slapping complained. The guy was so wide open, on a couple occasions he casually lined up the laces on the ball before shooting. Houston enters this contest shooting only 43.9 percent from the field in the series. They hit 76.4 percent at the charity stripe.
Houston star James Harden still managed to churn out a huge game with 32 points, 11 assists, six rebounds and two steals. But Utah turned the tables with a stunning 116-108 road win in Game 2, setting the stage for this pivotal showdown. They forced the Jazz to commit six turnovers before the second quarter and scored nine points off those turnovers. The Jazz rode their balanced scoring attack to a win in Game 2.
"Credit Houston", Jazz coach Quin Snyder told reporters. The Jazz is sputtering at the charity stripe, cashing in only 66.5 percent of their chances.
Utah shot splendidly throughout and finished 15 for 32 from behind the arc while posting a 51.2 percentage from the floor overall.
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The problem for Utah was, the team dug itself into a 25-point hole at the intermission, which was too much to overcome.
In a game victory where Joe Ingles led the Utah Jazz instead of their best player Donovan Mitchell, Clay Travis wonders if this series has taken a turn. Bet the Houston Rockets -3.5 over the Jazz in game 3. The Jazz have survived two games without Ricky Rubio, can they take the series lead without him? They led by as many as 19 in the first half against a Houston team that appeared flat and disinterested.
Jazz bench - With Mitchell struggling offensively, the Jazz bench came to the rescue. He has been superb in these playoffs, with three 20-point games already (as compared to having only two in the final two months of the regular season).
Utah ranks second in fast break points allowed per game (9.9) while Houston ranks 15th (11.8).
Utah gave Houston a taste of its own medicine in Game 2 by burying 15 3-pointers and winning the 3-point battle by 15 points. Can the Jazz maintain that momentum? Mitchell was first-team All-ACC last season at Louisville. The Swiss big man notched 21 points and 11 rebounds as he continues to terrorize around the basket during an impressive postseason. The total is set at 209 points.