Houston Rockets vs Utah Jazz: How the series-clinching Game 5 was won

Houston Rockets head coach Mike D'Antoni (Photo by Bill Baptist/NBAE via Getty Images)
Houston Rockets head coach Mike D'Antoni (Photo by Bill Baptist/NBAE via Getty Images) /

The Houston Rockets were able to take down the Utah Jazz for good as they were able to defeat them 100-93. What went into it? Let’s take a quick dive.

Houston Rockets fans — we’re finally getting to admit it.  Your hometown team will get to move on to the next round.  Unless something strange happens, they’ll be taking on the Golden State Warriors on the road later this week which is something we’re all anticipating the start of.

Even though it should be the Western Conference Finals matchup once again, they’ll likely be facing off one round earlier but it will get the same attention as a Finals series with the winner likely being crowned the 2018-19 season champs.

Will it be the Houston Rockets?  The hell if I knew but they’ve certainly got a good shot in getting the job done.

But let’s not worry about that now, let’s celebrate the success of them winning this playoff series and what they did to get it right.  Despite the plethora of open shots the Jazz were offered, the Houston Rockets were still able to prevail because ultimately, their opponent is more defensive-minded than offensive and they’re not natural, volume shooters like the Rox are.

The Houston Rockets‘ shooting line was .432/.368/.770 this series as well as averaging 43.2 three-point attempts and 16.0 makes per game.  They were also ranked 4th among the 16 teams in the playoffs in defensive efficiency, allowing a paltry 98.8 points per 100 possessions.

Ladies and gentlemen, that’s a formula for success and that’s why they’re moving on to the next round, despite facing a talented team like the Jazz.

Earlier today, I talked about the three keys to winning tonight’s game so let’s see how successful they were:

Rebounding.  The Houston Rockets held their own tonight on the boards, narrowly losing the margin 47-46 but they still eked out the Jazz 187-183 for the series.  This was because of Clint Capela‘s strong play on both ends of the floor despite playing through an upper respiratory infection.  I’m not sure what kind of concoction that team doctor Walter Lowe put together for him

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but it was certainly the elixir fixer to ensure he did his part to help this team win.  He chipped in 16 points, 10 rebounds and three blocks to his credit.

P.J. Tucker and Chris Paul chipped in nine and eight rebounds respectively, further indicating that it’s a team effort to get the job done, not just the front line.

Bench production.  The Rockets finished with 20 bench points on the night, still a lot lower than what the unit averaged through the first three games (31.3 PPG) but it was enough to get the W.  Nene Hilario and Danuel House chipped in eight and seven points respectively.

Turnovers.  The Rockets — who had 17 turnovers tonight — were on the cusp of tying their series-high of 18 turnovers netted in Game 2 but buckled down and concentrated on not turning the ball over when it counted.

They instead reverted to a strategy of fleecing the ball away in the final minutes of the game which proved to be fruitful for the outcome.  I saw a lot of bad passes by James Harden tonight because the Jazz were agitating him.  They didn’t defend in front but from behind by shading him and keeping an eye on his movements, ready to pounce the passing lanes when he’d be ready to strike.

It didn’t work as they turned up the pressure on the Jazz when the game was on the line.

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This game was far from perfect for the Rockets but they did the little things to put the Jazz to bed for good.  If the Warriors prevail, the Rockets cannot allow for their future opponent to get open shots; because, unlike the Jazz, the Warriors feast on every opportunity offered to them.

I can’t wait until later this week!  Let’s go!