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Jazz-Rockets By The Numbers
The Jazz are facing a 1-0 series deficit heading into Wednesday's matchup with the Houston Rockets. Here's a look at some of the numbers behind each team's journey to the Western Conference Semifinals.
Donovan Mitchell is having one of the best playoff debuts in NBA history. Utah's rookie guard is averaging 27.4 points per game in the postseason—on an efficient 45.5 percent shooting—and in Utah's Round 1 victory over the Thunder he became just the second rookie to score 20+ points in his first six playoff games (the other is Kareem Abdul-Jabbar in 1970).
The Rockets shot 17-for-32 (53.1 percent) from 3-point range in Game 1. During the regular season, Houston led the NBA with 15.3 3-pointers per game, nearly three more than the second-place Nets (12.7). In their 4-1 series victory over the Timberwolves in Round 1, the Rockets averaged 15 threes per game on 34.6 percent shooting from deep.
MVP favorite James Harden, who averaged 30.4 points, 5.4 rebounds and 8.8 assists (and 3.7 3-pointers) during the regular season, has turned it up a notch or two during the playoffs. Excluding a 12-point, 2-for-18 shooting dud against the Wolves in Round 1 (a game the Rockets still won), Harden has averaged 34.8 points and 5.2 threes per game this postseason. Harden scored 41 points and shot 7-for-12 from behind the arc against the Jazz in Game 1.
The Jazz are really missing the playmaking and leadership of Ricky Rubio, who injured his hamstring early in Utah's series-clinching victory over the Thunder on Friday and hasn't played since. Rubio was making the most of the first playoff appearance of his seven-year NBA career, averaging 16.8 points, 8.6 rebounds, 7.8 assists and 1.6 steals in the five games leading up to his injury. Rubio's 26-11-10 triple-double in Game 3 was one of the signature performances of the 2018 playoffs.
Houston center Clint Capela had a breakout season, and he's carried that success into the playoffs. In Round 1, Capela (15.8 points, 14.2 rebounds, 2.0 blocks) outplayed Minnesota's Karl-Anthony Towns (15.2 points, 1.0 blocks, 0.6 3-pointers—all down from his averages during the regular season). The Rockets are 38-8 this season when Capela logs a double-double. Capela had his best game of the season against Utah, finishing with 24 points and 19 rebounds on December 18 in Salt Lake City. In Game 1 against the Jazz, Capela finished with 16 points and 12 rebounds.
Led by DPOY frontrunner Rudy Gobert, Utah finished the regular season with the NBA's second-best defense (99.8 points allowed per game), while Houston—behind Harden and Chris Paul—ranked No. 2 in scoring (112.4 points per game).
Utah's rookie backcourt of Mitchell and Royce O'Neale is going head to head with one of the most accomplished duos in the NBA. Harden and Paul have a combined 22 years of NBA experience, 15 All-Star appearances, and seven All-NBA First Team selections. In Game 1, Mitchell/O'Neale had 25 points, six rebounds and nine assists, while Harden/Paul finished with 58 points, 12 rebounds and 13 assists.
The Jazz will stay in Houston for Game 2 against the Rockets on Wednesday. Tipoff is set for 6:00pm MT and the game will be broadcast nationally on TNT. The Jazz will return home for Game 3 on Friday at 8:30pm.