Houston Rockets vs Utah Jazz: Three keys to winning Game 5

Houston Rockets guard James Harden (Photo by Tim Warner/Getty Images)
Houston Rockets guard James Harden (Photo by Tim Warner/Getty Images) /

The Houston Rockets have an opportunity to close out the series in their Game 5 matchup with the Utah Jazz. Here are three keys to the game. Take a look.

The Houston Rockets are now five games into their foray of playoff basketball and now they have a terrific opening to close out the series on their home court.  They can wave goodbye to the Utah Jazz just in the way Damian Lillard did so against the Oklahoma City Thunder last night in an amazing, buzzer-beating fashion.

That shot eerily reminded me so much of the clutch bucket that he nailed with 0.9 ticks left on the clock back in the Houston Rockets‘ first-round series against the Portland Trail Blazers back in 2014.

You know the story, the team was up 98-96 but when Lillard had the go-ahead, he launched himself into the history books as one of the greatest shots in NBA playoff history.  The Blazers won the series in that split-second and the Houston Rockets were completely dumbfounded as to how they were able to allow him to be open to take the shot.

But enough of the cringing memories, let’s talk about what the Houston Rockets need to do tonight to close this series out for good.  It’s understandable to see the Jazz fight their way out of being swept on their home court but it’s now time to get to business and put them away for good.

What are three keys to taking down the Jazz tonight?

Rebounding.  The Houston Rockets were outrebounded 52-35 back Monday night and it was the

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first time they lost that war in the paint.  Up until Game 4, the battle of the boards was quite even with our team holding a slight margin of 140-137 through the first three games.

But all hell broke loose and the team got beat out by a 17-rebound margin.  I know that Clint Capela is suffering from a cold but it will be up to Kenneth Faried, P.J. Tucker, Nene Hilario and to a lesser extent, James Harden to carry the load as this certainly will be the key to taking this game.  Rebounding creates opportunities and those were certainly missed Monday night, allowing the Jazz to take control of the game.

Bench production.  The Rockets were only able to get five points from the bench Wednesday night and Austin Rivers had all of them.  Before then, the Rockets‘ bench had been averaging 31.3 points per game through the first three games.  It’ll be up to Rivers, Faried, Danuel House and Gerald Green to provide some offensive — as well as defensive punch — to help the starting five out.

Turnovers.  The Houston Rockets have averaged 14 turnovers per game this series and although we’d like it to be lower, they’ve been winning games in spite of.  Out of the 56 turnovers committed, 23 of those were from bad passes from Chris Paul (11) and Harden (12).  It’s imperative that these two take care of the basketball tonight so that it doesn’t create opportunities for the Jazz!  I have no doubt that they will.

But I’m ready and should be too for a close out of this series.

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The Houston Rockets will take on the Jazz tonight at 7 p.m. CDT at Toyota Center.  The game will be televised on AT&T Sportsnet — Southwest/TNT and broadcast on NewsRadio 740 AM (KTRH) and La Ranchera 850 AM (KEYH) in Spanish.