Game Day: Houston Rockets Offense Face Jazz Defense 11.29.16

Oct 17, 2016; Salt Lake City, UT, USA; Utah Jazz guard George Hill (3) dribbles the ball during the first half against the Los Angeles Clippers at Vivint Smart Home Arena. Mandatory Credit: Russ Isabella-USA TODAY Sports

Oct 17, 2016; Salt Lake City, UT, USA; Utah Jazz guard George Hill (3) dribbles the ball during the first half against the Los Angeles Clippers at Vivint Smart Home Arena. Mandatory Credit: Russ Isabella-USA TODAY Sports

For the second time in 11 days the Houston Rockets face the Utah Jazz looking to continue their winning ways.

With 17 games under their belts the Houston Rockets sit with an 11-6 record and have posted two consecutive 3-1 winning weeks. Last time the Rockets played Utah it was at the Toyota Center and the Jazz were missing one key ingredient – George Hill.

While it may seem far fetched for me to shout out Hill with the likes of Rudy Gobert, Gordon Hayward, Rodney Hood and Derrick Favors among the top talents on Utah, there is a solid reason for it.

Hill represents the steadying force the Jazz require. Without him in the line-up Utah was 3-5. With him in the line-up they are 6-3.  More impressively in his 2 games back this past week Utah won with a 26 point differential and saw their defensive rank leap to second.

That’s more than a subtle jump. Considering the Clippers suffered 2 losses this weekend where their opponents out scored them by a cumulative 32 points yet they only fell one spot defensively showcases just how impressive the Jazz’s  7 rung leap up the defensive ladder was. Not to mention the Jazz have yet to lose since his return.

In essence tonight’s game offers the top 4 Houston offense versus the top 2 Jazz defense.

With that, let’s break it down:

Nov 25, 2016; Salt Lake City, UT, USA; Utah Jazz center Boris Diaw (33) dribbles the ball as Atlanta Hawks forward Paul Millsap (4) defends during the first quarter at Vivint Smart Home Arena. Mandatory Credit: Russ Isabella-USA TODAY Sports

2016 Draft Picks

Round 1: N/A

Round 2: Joel Bolomboy (52), Marcus Paige (55), Tyrone Wallace (60)

2016 Free Agents prior to July 1, 2016:

Unrestricted:

Moves made following July 1, 2016:

Incoming:

Exiting: 

Unresolved:

  • None

Nov 19, 2016; Houston, TX, USA; Houston Rockets center Clint Capela (15) drives to the basket against Utah Jazz center Rudy Gobert (27) in the second half at Toyota Center. Rockets won 111-102. Mandatory Credit: Thomas B. Shea-USA TODAY Sports

Current Stats:

Point Guard:  James Harden – 28.9 points, 12.2  assists, 7.4 rebounds 2016 SCS Harden preview

Shooting Guard: Patrick Beverley – 7.2 points, 4.0 assists, 4.0 rebounds 8.3 points, 3.3 assists, 1.3 reboundsMedia Day Interview

Small ForwardTrevor Ariza – 12.8 points, 2.2 assists, 5.0 rebounds, 2.1 steals, 40.9% from deep 2016 SCS Ariza preview

Power Forward: Ryan Anderson – 12.4 points, 5.6 rebounds, 40.4% three point field goal percents  Anderson Media Day

CenterClint Capela – 12.4 points, 8.7 rebounds, 62.3% field goal percent, 2.0 blocks  2016 SCS Capela preview

Jazz Starting 5:

Point Guard: George Hill – 21.2 points, 4.2 assists, 3.8 rebounds

Shooting Guard: Rodney Hood – 15.9 points,  2.1 assists, 4.5 rebounds, 37.0% from deep

Small Forward: Gordon Hayward – 20.6 points, 7.1 assists,  3.6 rebounds

Power Forward: Boris Diaw – 3.7 points, 1.7 assists,  2.1 rebounds (of note Diaw fills in while Favors is out)

Center: Rudy Gobert – 10.8 points 10.9 rebounds 2.5 blocks

Nov 19, 2016; Houston, TX, USA; Utah Jazz forward Trey Lyles (41) lays the ball up against the Houston Rockets in the second quarter at Toyota Center. Mandatory Credit: Thomas B. Shea-USA TODAY Sports

Houston Rockets Bench:

Guards:

Wings:

Bigs:

Jazz Reserves:

Guards: Dante Exum, Raul Neto

Wings: Shelvin Mack, Alex Burks, Joe Johnson, Joe Ingles

Bigs: Trey Lyles, Boris Diaw, Jeff Withey, Joel Bolomboy (R)

Mar 27, 2015; Denver, CO, USA; Utah Jazz head coach Quin Snyder in the second quarter against the Denver Nuggets at Pepsi Center. Mandatory Credit: Isaiah J. Downing-USA TODAY Sports

Mar 27, 2015; Denver, CO, USA; Utah Jazz head coach Quin Snyder in the second quarter against the Denver Nuggets at Pepsi Center. Mandatory Credit: Isaiah J. Downing-USA TODAY Sports

Game Specifics:

The Venue  Vivint Smart Home Arena, Salt Lake City, UT

First Meeting of 2016: In the first game between the teams the Rockets beat Utah by a margin of 111 to 102

The Tip: 9PM EST, 8:00 PM CT

TV: Root Sports in Houston

Radio: 790 AM in Houston

Walking Wounded:

Rockets: none

Jazz:

  • Derrick Favors – knee, has been battling recurring issues with his knee for some time. He has flare ups that remove him for periods of time. There is no timetable for his return.
  • Alec Burks – ankle is expected to miss between 1 and 2 months

Nov 28, 2016; Minneapolis, MN, USA; Utah Jazz forward Gordon Hayward (20) looks on during the second half against the Minnesota Timberwolves at Target Center. The Jazz won 112-103. Mandatory Credit: Jesse Johnson-USA TODAY Sports

Handle the Paint: Obviously Gobert offers interior paint and rim protection. Given the Rockets propensity to hoist up threes it may not matter. Okay, so that’s a stretch because Harden loves to penetrate the paint prior to his kick out dimes to the corners. Capela will have his hands full facing a formidable opponent and he could be the key to who gets the edge.

Defense needs to be a priority: Sure the Rockets have proved they are an offensive powerhouse, but in order to take the next step they need to start finding a balance on the floor. Consistent habits will pay dividends in the long run. What better place to start than against the second best defensive unit in the Association.

Block the passing lanes on defense, control the ball on offense: the Jazz rank 29th in assists which is likely a product of George HIll missing so many games. Conversely, the Jazz hold their opponents to the second fewest assists per game. If the Rockets cough up the ball that combination could quickly equal problems.

Meet the depth: Utah has a perfect blend of youthful talent mixed with veteran leadership and savvy. Key to the night will be matching the energy Utah brings to the court with every Jazz player intent on giving 100% on defense.

Don’t be fooled by the relatively easy victory in the teams first meeting. George Hill really is that important to the Jazz. Don’t believe me, ask Gregg Popovich, the one player he had a hard time losing was George Hill even though his trade netted Kawhi Leonard.

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