In anticipation for the Utah Jazz’s upcoming series against the Houston Rockets, we decided to bring in an outside perspective. One that would pull us from our Jazz minds. That’s why we invited Jeremy Brener from SB Nation’s The Dream Shake to answer a few questions for us. You’ll see that we also invited Jeremy to our Playoff Preview Podcast this week which you can catch here. We asked Jeremy six questions to answer covering a wide range of topics.
1. How do you see the Rockets matching up against the Jazz this year over last year in the playoffs?
I think the Rockets match up very well with the Jazz. James Harden cancels out Donovan Mitchell, and Clint Capela proved last year that Rudy Gobert is manageable for him.
There isn’t much change in this Jazz team compared to last year’s. Exum is out, which is unfortunate for Utah, but Kyle Korver is in, and he could create some matchup problems on the wing for Houston.
As for Houston, the biggest difference is not having Trevor Ariza. His role has been replaced/usurped by Eric Gordon and Danuel House, but it will be interesting to see how Utah responds to that.
2. The Utah Jazz start pretty big with reigning DPOY Rudy Gobert and Derrick Favors. The Rockets were able to scheme them out of the game last year. Will we see an encore of that? How?
If it ain’t broke, don’t fix it. Although Gobert has improved for the Jazz, the Rockets will try the same tactic they used last year on him, which worked often. If Gobert proves to be too dominant this year, the Rockets could be in for a problem.
The way to take Gobert out of the game is to take him out of the paint and switch on to Harden or Chris Paul. Then, a kick to one of the wings to drive or hit from three is what it takes.
3. If James Harden and Donovan Mitchell play their way into a stalemate? Who is likely to step up for Houston?
Chris Paul. He was a major difference-maker last season to bring the Rockets to new heights, and he’s continued to do that even if the record doesn’t reflect it as much this season.
Also, as great as Mitchell is, I don’t think they will necessarily play to a stalemate. I think Harden will play better than Spida simply because of experience and the way he’s played this season.
With Harden, the Rockets have the best player on the floor, which is a big advantage in this series.
4. Which Jazz player not named Mitchell or Gobert are you most worried about having a big series?
Kyle Korver. He’s the one new, shiny piece from this year’s team and when he was added, the team began to improve. He can also keep up with Houston’s high volume from deep and it can cause some damage.
Gerald Green is Houston’s equivalent to Kyle Korver, and he’s been struggling down the stretch with an injury, so Korver could definitely be a problem for Houston.
5. Which Houston Rocket not named Chris Paul or James Harden should Jazz fans be worried about having a big series?
Clint Capela. He can give Gobert a lot of trouble, as he’s proven in the past. They could play their way into a stalemate and force others to step up.
Gobert needs to outplay Capela if the Jazz want a chance in this series, and if Capela wins that battle, the Jazz will be lucky to see Game 6.
6. Are you getting bad flashbacks of the 4-5 matchups from the Deron Williams/Carlos Boozer era?
Yes, but then I realize that Jazz fans are probably also having bad flashbacks of the James Harden/Chris Paul Rockets beating the Jazz in five games, so, it evens out.