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Houston Rockets vs. Utah Jazz game preview

NBA: Utah Jazz at Houston Rockets
James Harden always flops. Donovan Mitchell never flops.
Thomas B. Shea-USA TODAY Sports

Finally, Houston meets a team underperforming as much as they are.

The Utah Jazz were supposed to challenge as one of the top teams in the West. I saw more than a few sites say that they were firmly in the second tier of West teams along with the Rockets and Thunder. At 12-13, Utah is just a step away from .500. Just like Houston.

Much like Houston’s season, Utah’s campaign hasn’t really taken off just yet. They are 3-1 in their last four, but that’s against teams that aren’t really supposed to be in their league.

Part of the problem is Donovan Mitchell, who came into the season as the unquestioned offensive leader of the Jazz. His usage numbers are up, and his stats have stayed stagnant. He’s shooting 30% from deep and just 43% from the field. He’s likely to have a much more successful evening tonight as he blows by Houston’s poor one-on-one perimeter defense and attacks the Rockets’ equally poor interior defense.

So far, the Jazz have played a road-heavy schedule, but they’ve done well away from Salt Lake City, going 9-7 on the road. On the other side, they are a poor 3-6 at home, with their only wins coming against the Spurs, Mavericks, and Celtics.

Houston finished a three-games-in-four-nights sequence and had two days to prepare for the Jazz. Hopefully, they picked up some tricks to help shore up their defensive issues and Chris Paul learned how to shoot consistently again. There’s a lot of season left, but that won’t always be the case.

Oh, and Kyle Korver is back. Therefore, so is this:

Tip-off is at 9:30pm CT on TNT