Jazz look to slow down Harden tonight


A record-breaking night from Joe Ingles and a breakout National Basketball Association playoffs performance from Dante Exum helped Utah beat Houston in the National Basketball Association playoffs.

In Game 1, the Rockets did a tremendous job spacing the floor and leaving the 7-foot-1 Frenchman on an island in the paint.

Can the Jazz make the defensive adjustments necessary to slow James Harden? Harden has tormented the Jazz in all of their matchups this season.

Utah ranks second in points allowed in the paint per game (41.5) while Houston ranks 27th (48.1). The Jazz carved up the Rockets' aggressive defense to open up the game, with numerous easy buckets at the rim courtesy of Mitchell's vision.

"We had some time to think about, and talk about what we do", Ingles said post-game.

The Jazz forward was flawless from the field in the second half - going 5-for-5 - while Rockets players went 1-for-9 when guarded by the Aussie. The Rockets know that they will come out stronger for Game 2 than they did in the first game blowout.

Jenkins sat down with D'Antoni, point guards James Harden and Chris Paul, forwards P.J. Tucker and Ryan Anderson, and more to analyze how the Rockets - not the Warriors - are this year's biggest threat in the West. This series is turning out to be more competitive than it appeared it'd be after Game 1.

Getty James Harden celebrates with teammate Clint Capela during Game 1.

Houston's Trevor Ariza, a player known for his defense, has the task of guarding Mitchell in this series.

And with just under a minute left, Dante Exum had a dagger dunk for the Jazz. The Jazz love to funnel offensive players to Gobert, who changes any shot he doesn't block.

Mitchell struggled from the field (6-for-21 shooting), but he still finished with 17 points, five rebounds, 11 assists (a new career high), two steals and a game-high net rating of +13. Gobert made all of his shot attempts in game 1, but only took 4 shots.

The Rockets inbounded the ball from the sideline and went right back to Harden, who forced another switch on Mitchell. Even if Crowder is able to contain Harden, the Rockets have too many other weapons that the Jazz must defend. Houston is certainly still favored to win this series, but it would no longer be surprising for the Jazz to at least make it a deep series.

It is May 1st, but the Utah Jazz are not screaming, "May Day!" just yet.

The Jazz's average margin of victory in their last five games has been 2.6, down from 4.1 for the season. He's had one very bad performance: A 12-point showing in Game 2 of the Rockets opening round series against the Timberwolves in which he shot 1-for-10 from the floor.

The Rockets will take on the Jazz tonight at Toyota Center.