That Utah one just three fewer games and made it at least as deep into the playoffs as they did last season — when they had Gordon Hayward — is a testament to coach Quin Snyder, the Jazz defense, and the willingness of individual players to buy into the system. It’s been a great season for them.
Houston, however, is going to end it in the second round.
As I note in this PBT Extra, the Rockets can do something the Thunder could not — put out floor-spacing bigs who pull Rudy Gobert out of the paint. It opens up the lane and clears a path for drivers and cutters that Russell Westbrook never saw. James Harden and Chris Paul are not going to be as hot as they were from three all series, but they can knock down enough and set others up to keep the defense honest. Meanwhile, the Jazz continue to struggle to score — and without Ricky Rubio it doesn’t get easier.