The No. 4-seeded Houston Rockets held off the No. 5-seeded Utah Jazz to win their first-round playoff series in five games.
While the first two games were massive blowouts in favor of Houston, the last three games of the series were a lot more interesting. The Rockets barely nipped the Jazz in Game 3 despite James Harden missing his first 15 shots of the game. In Game 4, the Jazz were finally able to overcome the Rockets behind Donovan Mitchell's 31 points and Jae Crowder's 23-point contribution.
The Rockets held off the Jazz in front of their home fans in Game 5 behind James Harden's 26-point, six-rebound, six-assist effort and Clint Capela's double-double of 16 points and 10 rebounds. The game was close all throughout, but Houston was able to outlast Utah as the Jazz missed key 3-pointers towards the end of the game.
Houston will now move on to the second round of the playoffs where they will match up with either the Golden State Warriors or the Los Angeles Clippers.
Rockets brace for rematch against Warriors
While everyone would have loved to see these two Western Conference powerhouses rematch in the Western Conference Finals, fans will likely have to get ready to watch it one round earlier in the semifinals (assuming the Clippers lose). We all know what happened last year with the Rockets losing the last two games of the series, in large part due to Chris Paul's absence and the fact that the best 3-point shooting team somehow choked and missed 27 consecutive 3-pointers versus the Warriors in Game 7.
Barring a massive upset, Houston should get their chance for redemption as they look to avenge last year's blown series lead.
Rockets win in spite of Harden's shooting struggles
James Harden is arguably the NBA MVP for the second straight season, but he struggled drastically from the field during this series. He missed his first 15 shots and went 3-of-20 overall and the Rockets were still able to win Game 3. In Game 5, he started out 1-for-11 from the field and finished 10-for-26 for the game and Houston still finished off Utah.
For the series, Harden converted on a less than spectacular 36.7 percent of his field-goal attempts. If you would have said before the series started that Harden would struggle this much from the field, I think everybody would have pegged the Jazz as the winners of this series.
Mitchell gets hounded in matchup vs. Rockets
Donovan Mitchell is a young guy who is the clear star of the Jazz's franchise. With that said, he's still just 22 years old and he just completed his second season. Needless to say, he found out the hard way what it's like to be a star in this series.
The young shooting guard was absolutely hounded by the Rockets in five games as he struggled to not only find his shot, but he struggled to score points. Mitchell scored just 12 points in the deciding Game 5, going for 4-for-22 from the field as the Jazz desperately needed him to find his stroke to continue the series. For the series, Mitchell converted on just 35.6 percent of his field-goal attempts and 32.4 percent of his 3-point attempts.
He'll be thinking about this series for a long time as the Jazz head into the offseason.
Playoff series results (Rockets win series, 4-1)
- Game 1: Rockets 122, Jazz 90 (Box Score)
- Game 2: Rockets 118, Jazz 98 (Box Score)
- Game 3: Rockets 104, Jazz 101 (Box Score)
- Game 4: Jazz 107, Rockets 91 (Box Score)
- Game 5: Rockets 100, Jazz 93 (Box Score)