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Houston Rockets vs. Utah Jazz game preview

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NBA: Utah Jazz at Houston Rockets Thomas B. Shea-USA TODAY Sports

I wish this game was happening next month when Clint Capela will (hopefully) be healthy.

Utah currently holds a 2-1 advantage in the season series with Houston and is likely to win tonight and wrap it up 3-1. With Utah having one of the easiest closing schedules, that tiebreaker could come into play. Houston has already dropped their season series with the Blazers and haven’t won any of their own yet.

What’s more, the Rockets will drop below Utah in the standings tonight with a loss, placing them in seventh and just two games ahead of the Lakers in the ninth spot.

If this sounds all doom-and-gloom, it’s because, well, it kinda is. Right now, the Rockets are finding out just how difficult it is to win games without Clint Capela. Houston’s schedule doesn’t really get terrible before the All-Star break, but there are teams with semi-competent big men. And as Jahlil Okafor proved, semi-competent is more than enough to handle Houston’s gaping hole at center. And Rudy Gobert is way more than semi-competent, even though he did take 15 free throws last night which means his game is ugly according to Twitter.

In all seriousness, I want to talk about All-Star “snubs” for a second. Every year, sites like REDACTED publish lists of guys having great seasons that were snubbed. Those lists always feature several Western Conference players because the talent is deeper. But my pet peeve on this stuff is that if you think a player was snubbed, you need to give me a player that made the team that didn’t deserve their spot.

Most years, that’s pretty tough. This year, with the poor play of Russell Westbrook and Klay Thompson, that choice is pretty easy. Oddly enough, for the first time in years the problem was that there were too many good big men. It’s hard to make an argument for Gobert over Nikola Jokic, Anthony Davis (even with the drama), or Karl-Anthony Towns. I think you can make a claim that Gobert and LaMarcus Aldridge are equal, but LMA has had a great year too and the Spurs are ahead of the Jazz in the standings as I type this. But Gobert belongs in over those two guards for sure.

Chris Paul will be out tonight as Houston wants to hold him out of back-to-backs at this point. Nene should get some burn tonight.

Tip-off is at 8pm CT