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Houston Rockets vs. Utah Jazz Game 5 preview

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NBA: Playoffs-Houston Rockets at Utah Jazz Chris Nicoll-USA TODAY Sports

In Game 4, the Rockets sucked on offense.

Houston shot 42% overall from the field and 26% from deep. For perspective, they only shot that poorly three times in the regular season. All three games were UGLY and the common denominator was this: Chris Paul missed all three games.

So it should be no surprise that it was Paul that lifted a listless Houston attack in Salt Lake City and carried the Rockets offense to a 3-1 lead. Defensively, Clint Capela shut the door on the Jazz but collectively the Rockets showed their defensive chops once again.

We’ve talked about it all series, and we will continue to discuss Houston’s defense until the postseason ends. When the Rockets play their feisty brand of defense, they are basically unbeatable. Sure, it’s the NBA and any team can go off against any defense. However, when Houston puts the clamps on teams like they did in Games 3 and 4, they are difficult to beat even when they have one of their worst shooting performances of the year.

Realistically, Houston won’t play defense that well again in the series. On the flip side, the Rockets can’t expect to shoot as poorly as they did in Game 4. Still, that average favors the boys in white red black whatever color Houston wears tonight.

Houston’s gotten a break with Ricky Rubio missing all four games in this series. He’ll be out in Game 5 as will Dante Exum.

The Rockets have to know that tonight is their best chance to finish the series. The last thing they want is to have to go back to play in front of that crowd in SLC. With CP3 having blown a 3-1 lead just three years ago, I expect Houston to take care of business tonight and end the series.

Tip-off is at 7pm CT on TNT