An early look at the Rockets vs. Jazz NBA playoff series

James Harden and the Rockets will get Utah in Round 2. Ezra Shaw/Getty Images

The Rockets know their next opponent in the 2018 playoffs. 

The Utah Jazz beat Oklahoma City 96-91 to wrap up their series Friday night. Utah, the five seed, finished 48-34, but were one of the hottest teams in basketball down the stretch. The strength for Utah is defense, as the Jazz ranked second in the NBA.

The Rockets swept the season series between the teams, but most of the games were early on. The Jazz will be facing a quick turnaround, as Game 1 is Sunday afternoon at Toyota Center. They also might be without point guard Ricky Rubio, who left Friday night's game with a hamstring injury.

The complete series schedule will not be determined until the Boston-Milwaukee series is settled, but Game 2 will be Wednesday at Toyota Center.

What to watch for the Jazz: Center Rudy Gobert will represent a serious matchup problem for the Rockets, but then so did Karl-Anthony Towns and we saw haw that worked out. Rubio played at a high level throughout the Thunder series, and his availability will be key. Rookie star Donovan Mitchell had 38 points in the win over the Thunder Friday night and averaged 20.5 points per game in the regular season and upped that to 28.5 in the opening playoff series. The two teams have a long playoff history, but that was a long time ago and does not include any current players. The Jazz will offer a nice test, and their defense might win them a game or two, but the Rockets have too much firepower and should advance.

Game 1 details

Time: 2:30 p.m.

Site: Toyota Center.



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