Game 59: Utah Jazz (30-28, Road: 9-20) @ Houston Rockets (32-25, Home: 20-8)
The "It's not a must win" Must win game
Tonight the Utah Jazz face off against hated rival, and former playoff obstacle (like 4 playoff match ups ago) Houston Rockets. The Rockets are currently #6 in the West, and we're sitting at #10. By my prediction (which goes back to my pre-season prediction), the Jazz need 36 wins. The Jazz currently have 30. And, here's the interesting part, the Jazz have only 8 games remaining. Logically, mathematically, this is a must win game. However, if you look at the schedule . . . the Jazz can still lose two games and still, theoretically, make the playoffs. The remaining games we have left are @ HOU, @ NOR, @ MEM, vs. DAL, @ POR, vs. ORL, vs. PHX, and vs. POR. Right off the bad the Dallas and Orlando games look like the two games we're likely to drop. The Memphis game is going to be hard too. And then there's tonight. The Jazz *can* lose tonight and still end up winning 6 games. It's not going to be easy; but I've been surprised by this Jazz team before.
I'm not counting them down for the count just yet.
After the jump -- what's going on with the Rockets and Jazz!
What's going on with the Rockets?
The Rockets are hot right now. Since an overtime loss to the Indiana Pacers they have won four road games in a row: @ Chicago Bulls, @ Los Angeles Lakers, @ Sacramento Kings, and @ Portland Trailblazers. They have also recently beaten the Lakers at home, and the Warriors, Kings, and Grizzlies. They are on the war path. Houston has a bumpy road ahead with two games vs. Denver left, a game @ the Mavs left, and a game @ Miami left. They need this win just like we need it. Except they're the #6 team, and we're not in the playoffs right now.
The Rockets are currently without Kevin Martin, but the good news for them is that Kyle Lowry has returned. He came off the bench in their last game, and in his stead, Goran Dragic has been killing it. So yeah, that always sucks for us because we can't handle a team with one PG who can drive and hit threes. Houston has two.
Houston has a ton of three point shooters anyway. So, it just basically sucks play against them. Period. They are #8 in three point % this year. They are also #3 in free throw percentage this year, and #10 in fg%. So, they make the shots they take. And they've taken the 7th most shots in the league this year. They have the #8 offense in ppg, which is also the #9 offense in off rtg. They have a middle of the road pace, and aren't really known for defense.
They still do have Luis Scola and Marcus Camby (and Sam Dalembert) -- so it's not like they don't have capable interior defenders though. They also have length with guys like Courtney Lee and under-rated Chase Budinger there to get their hands on pass attempts. Houston always plays us thought. Tonight will be no exception.
What's going on with the Jazz?
We BEAT THE SPURS! AND STOPPED THEIR 11 GAME WIN STREAK! AND WE WOULD HAVE NO WINS IF WE PLAYED THE YOUNGER GUYS!
Why must everything always be so hyperbolic in Jazzland? No team wins with such rigid line shifts. The only way the Jazz win tonight is if our vets and youth play together and get us a complete win. The Jazz will be dared to shoot from outside, and we're going to need Devin Harris to continue his stellar shooting of late. In March C.J. Miles and Gordon Hayward both approached 40.0 3pt% as well. They will need to force Houston to defend them behind the line in order to make enough space for our paint attack.
This isn't a must win game. But if you need to win 6 of the next 8 games -- they all kind of are. Right?