This was a rough one, Jazz fans.
My first draft of this recap was nothing but poop emojis. Literally. I’m not joking.
After getting blown out in game 1, you’d expect the Jazz to come out swinging in game 2, fighting for their effective playoff lives. Of the 282 teams that have gone down 2-0 in a 7-game series, only 20 have come back to win it. For those of you keeping track at home, that’s just over 7%. It’s only happened 6 times since 2012.
Houston jumped to an early 12-4 lead just a few minutes into the game. They never looked back. Utah was down 20 after the first quarter, and never got the game close after that. The Rockets would lead by at least 14 from that point on.
James Harden posted a triple double, racking up 32 points, 13 rebounds, and 10 assists. His dribble drives collapsed Utah’s defense and made for easy kickout passes to open shooters. Houston made 17 of their 42 threes (40.5%), including a combined 7-of-13 from PJ Tucker and Eric Gordon.
It appears Houston has exorcised their playoff demons after last season’s disastrous end in games 6 and 7 of the Western Conference Finals.
Utah, on the other hand, has not found success at any point in this series with ... much of anything.
Donovan Mitchell’s shot selection, shooting percentages (32% in the series so far), and ball control (9 turnovers to just 6 assists in the series so far) are still issues.
Jae Crowder is still shooting his way out of his next contract.
Rudy Gobert is still getting beaten by Houston’s scheme.
Utah’s role players are still disappearing in crucial moments.
Derrick Favors was reliable and steady tonight, despite the lack of help. He was a key part of some of Utah’s bigger runs, and at “only” -10 in plus/minus, he was the most effective starter tonight. Royce O’Neale was Utah’s 2nd best player... and I love O’Neale, but you’re not going to win many playoff games if he’s one of the only guys putting together a good game for your squad. Ricky Rubio was solid, and Grayson Allen was effective in garbage time, as was Georges Niang.
That’s about it as far as bright spots go. This game was abysmal.
Utah played sloppy basketball. Late or missed rotations on defense. Blowing 4-on-2 and even 5-on-2 fast break opportunities. Missing wide open threes. Turnovers in critical moments. Lazy dribble hand-offs that got blown up possession after possession. Allowing offensive rebounds to guards surrounded by 3 Jazz players. Not getting to 50-50 balls.
The Jazz were outmatched, out-schemed, and worst of all, they were out-hustled. Their backs are against the wall and they played like they’ve already given up. I expected more fight from these guys. I expected more hustle. I expected more fire and desire and “up yours” attitude.
Quin Snyder’s defensive scheme is not working. At all. Harden is getting whatever he wants, wherever he wants it, and is carving up Utah’s defense with clinical precision. And while Quin’s offensive scheme is technically generating open shots, the players getting those shots are exactly the players the Houston Rockets want shooting the basketball.
This game felt like it was over by the end of the 1st quarter, and that feeling never changed throughout the rest of the game. Anytime Utah started a mini-run, Mike D’antoni would call a timeout to stop the momentum, or Harden would drill another step-back three in isolation.
This one isn’t looking good, Jazz fans. I wish I could say differently. But history says the odds are stacked against us - remember, in 282 tries, just 20 NBA teams have come back from an 0-2 deficit to win the series. Seven percent. The Jazz are 13-1 underdogs at this point (and probably worse, since both games have been blowouts).
According to Inpredictable, at the lowest point in each game, the odds of:— Michael Tyler Davis (@tsetsedavis) April 11, 2019
POR>LAL - 20.6%
OKC>HOU - 2.5%
DEN>MIN - 1.3%
POR>SAC - 2.8%
Odds of all 4 happening? 0.0001875% (ie. just under two in a million)
Then again, it was a two-in-a-million shot that the Rockets would be Utah’s first-round match-up.
As it stands, it looks like we’ll be lucky to see the Jazz reach a game 5.
#TakeNote and #TakeHeart, Jazz fans. It’s all we can do at this point.