Houston Vs. Utah

ROUND ONE - Western Conference
Utah Jazz (4th seed) Vs. Houston Rockets (5th seed)

The Utah Jazz (51- 31) finished first in the Northwest Division while losing six of its last 10 games. The Houston Rockets (52- 30) were third in the extremely competitive Southwest Division. In the season series, the Jazz bested the Rockets 3-1.

Inside, the Jazz feature power forward Carlos Boozer (20.9 PPG, 11.7 RPG, 0.3 BPG), who’s able to hit inside 56% of the time and is a tough rebounder. Forward/center Mehmet Okur (17.6 PPG, 7.2 RPG, 0.5 BPG) offers more inside power, although he’s not as accurate a shooter.

The outside game of Deron Williams (16.2 PPG, 9.3 APG, 1 SPG, .322 3-P%) sets the pace for the team. He’s a sound court commander who can keep things together. Veteran Derek Fisher (10.1 PPG, 3.3 APG, 1 SPG) will see valuable minutes in this series.

After suffering an injury that kept him out of action for two months, center Yao Ming (25 PPG, 9.4 RPG, 2 BPG) has come back and been a dominant player. From the outside, shooting guard Tracy McGrady (24.6 PPG, 5.3 RPG, 6.5 APG) and point guard Rafer Alston (13.3 PPG, 5.4 APG, 1.6 SPG) have been solid. McGrady hits threes at a .331 clip and Alston hits them at a rate of .363. On defense between them, they average close to three steals per game.

This will be one of the most physical series in the first round. It has the potential to be a full seven-game series. Houston’s defense has kept opponents to 92.1 PPG, making them the best in this area in the west. The Rockets are +4.9, while the Jazz are +2.9. The Rocket and Jazz inside men will be the difference makers both in shooting and rebounding. However, when push comes to shove and if everything plays out evenly under the basket, then look for Houston’s important outside game to become important.

Maddux Sports Series Prediction:

Houston Rockets in 7 Games

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