The Utah Jazz took care of business in the first round of the NBA Playoffs against Russell Westbrook and the Oklahoma City Thunder. Heading into the second round against the Houston Rockets, the Jazz were hoping to get off to a hot start, but that wasn’t the case in Game 1. Utah ended up falling to the Rockets by a final score of 110-96.
Ricky Rubio was forced to miss Game 1 due to injury and he will miss more time. At this point, there has been no timetable given for his return to the court. Utah missed their starting point guard in a big way and the offense in the first half was absolutely awful.
Donovan Mitchell and Jae Crowder were the leaders for the Jazz on the night, both scoring 21 points. Mitchell did not get off to the kind of start that some were expecting after his dominating series against the Thunder. He shot just 9-of-22 from the field and made just one of his seven three-point attempts.
Quin Snyder and company are without question disappointed that they couldn’t steal Game 1, but they didn’t beat the Thunder in Game 1 either. Utah has been here before and came back to win in six. They will not allow this loss to change the way they play or dictate what they do heading into Game 2.
All of that being said, what three things can be taken away for the Jazz from their Game 1 loss to Houston?
Utah Needs More from Their Front-Court
Throughout the entire 2017-18 season, the Jazz relied heavily on their front-court to win basketball games. In Game 1, Derrick Favors scored five points and Rudy Gobert scored 11. If the Jazz are going to win this series, they will need a lot more production from their front-court moving forward.
A Point Guard Must Step Up
Playing without a true point guard is never easy, especially for a team that has grown accustomed to having Rubio run the show. Utah played Dante Exum more than normal, but he was unable to help take the offense to the next level. Exum or even Mitchell need to improve when it comes to running the offense in Game 2.
Defending the Three Is the Top Priority
Going up against a team like Houston is never easy, especially with all the shooters they have on their roster. Houston ended up shooting 17-for-32 from behind the three-point line. Snyder will need to tweak his defense a bit to run the Rockets off the three-point line and stopping Houston’s perimeter shooting should be their top priority.
It will be interesting to see what kind of changes the Jazz make in Game 2. Houston is favored to continue their dominant performance throughout the series, but Utah is not going to go down without a fight.