The Houston Rockets will again try to upend the defending champion Golden State Warriors in the postseason, just like they came within a game of doing in 2019. In order to have that opportunity, however, they will need to dispatch the Utah Jazz first.
Seeded fourth in the Western Conference playoffs, Houston will face a 50-win Utah team that finished the regular season in the top 10 of the league in field goal percentage, 3-point percentage, assists, rebounds, and blocked shots.
Dispatching the fifth-seeded Jazz in order to set up a potential Western Conference semifinals match-up with top-seeded Golden State (should the Warriors win their series against the Los Angeles Clippers) will be no easy task, but the dates and times for the games in which the Rockets will try to do are set.
Rockets to Face Jazz, Series Starts This Weekend
According to the NBA, the best of seven series will begin on Sunday, April 14. Game dates, times and TV channels for the series are as follows:
Game 1: Utah at Houston, Sunday, April 14, 9:30 p.m. ET, TNT
Game 2: Utah at Houston, Wednesday, April 17, 9:30 p.m. ET, TNT
Game 3: Houston at Utah, Saturday, April 20, 10:30 p.m. ET, ESPN
Game 4: Houston at Utah, Monday, April 22, 10:30 p.m. ET, TNT
Game 5 (if necessary): Utah at Houston, Wednesday, April 24, time and broadcaster to be determined
Game 6 (if necessary): Houston at Utah, Friday, April 26, time and broadcaster to be determined
Game 7 (if necessary): Utah at Houston, Sunday, April 28, time and broadcaster to be determined
Houston, finishing the regular season with 53 wins, will enjoy home court in this series. Here’s a look at how they earned that advantage over Utah.
Rockets Split Season Series with Jazz
The four regular-season games between these two teams seemed to be a story of the Rockets improving as the season went along.
The Jazz took the first contest from Houston, defeating them in Utah 100-98 on Oct. 24. The Jazz then got a road win against the Rockets on Dec. 6, 118-98. Houston would get their first win against Utah of the season on Dec. 17, 102-97, at home. The Rockets would then earn the season series split in Utah on Feb. 2, 125-98.
Houston struggled during the regular season, even in their two wins over the Jazz, to disrupt Utah’s offensive scheme. In the four games, the Jazz’s effective field goal percentage never fell below 42.4 percent and was as high as 55.1. The Rockets got the two wins they got simply because they were even more efficient offensively in those games, not because their defense improved vastly.
The season series was split right down the middle, but these franchises haven’t been so evenly matched throughout their history of playoff meetings.
Rockets vs. Jazz Playoff Series History
The 2018-19 season will be the ninth time these two teams have faced each other in a playoff series, with Utah winning five of the eight series played so far. Featuring NBA legends like Clyde Drexler, Hakeem Olajuwon, John Stockton, and Karl Malone, the history of this match-up is rich. The breakdown of Jazz-Rockets in the NBA playoffs is as follows:
2017-18 season: Rockets 4-1
2007-08 season: Jazz 4-2
2006-07 season: Jazz 4-3
1997-98 season: Jazz 3-2 (best of five series)
1996-97 season: Jazz 4-2
1994-95 season: Rockets 3-2 (best of five series)
1993-94 season: Rockets 4-1
1984-85 season: Jazz 3-2 (best of five series)
In order for Houston to get its fourth series playoff series victory over Utah in its franchise history, it will have to slow down the Jazz’s offense enough to allow its own offense to shine. The prize of a potential rematch of last season’s Western Conference Finals could be awaiting the Rockets.