The Utah Jazz are in a similar position to the mid-2010s Houston Rockets. They’ve had great regular season success, but have not found a way to push over the hump and get into the later rounds of the NBA playoffs.
With the West wide open this year once again, Utah has its sights set on a deep postseason run. In terms of talent, they have a bonafide star in Donovan Mitchell, a rim-protecting big in Rudy Gobert, and a cast of perimeter players that star in their supporting roles. They brought in Hassan Whiteside to give them more depth at the center position as drafted Jared Butler out of Baylor.
Utah is 3-0 on the young season with a gritty win over the Kings in Sacramento and a tough win at home over the Denver Nuggets (Nikola Jokic left the game after 15 minutes). Still, these are the kinds of games that Utah hasn’t always closed out in the past, so these are good wins for them.
The Rockets have found the stride that I’m guessing most fans wanted them to find: competitive games that end in losses. Too often last season, Rockets games were over at halftime (sometimes much earlier), which led to general apathy from the fanbase. Texans fans know what I’m talking about. It’s not only important for these young Rockets to improve and be competitive, but to hold the attention of an audience. Tonight’s game is not competing against a World Series game, so it would be nice to see Houston hold its own against a team that won the regular season title in the West in 2020-21 and looks primed to make a run at it again.
Tip-off is at 7pm CT on AT&T SportsNet Southwest