Facing the fifth-seeded Utah Jazz in a rematch of last year's Conference Semifinals, the fourth-seeded Rockets took a 1-0 series lead with a comfortable 32-point win at home.
The Utah Jazz hope to tie this series up before heading up for game three.
Gobert had a super efficient (8-of-10 shooting) double-double of 22 points and 12 rebounds, but the same can't be said for Mitchell, who put up 19 on 7-of-18 shooting from the field (38.9 percent) while recording zero assists.
Denver All-Star Nikola Jokic posted the fourth triple-double in Nuggets playoff history, with 10 points, 14 assists and 14 rebounds. The Utah Jazz have lost four of their last seven road games. The Rockets only make it harder on themselves if they allow the Jazz to get out to an early lead or a strong shooting start.
In a clip making the rounds on the internet, the Spaniard picked up the reigning Most Valuable Player as he crossed the halfcourt line, sticks to his hip and eventually his back, and rapidly shuffles his feet in a comically blatant attempt to funnel Harden towards the middle against two Jazz defenders (anchored by Rudy Gobert). Both clubs come into the NBA Playoffs 2019 with momentum, as Houston won 11 of its last 14, while Utah finished with a 13-3 mark in its final 16 regular-season contests. Defensively, Houston is giving up 109.1 points per game while opponents shoot 46.6 percent against them and they hold foes to only 34 percent shooting from 3-point land. They'll assuredly come into this series prepared and with a well-crafted game plan, courtesy of Quin Snyder, that if executed well could very well lead to victory.
Pick up the pace - As Rockets head coach Mike D'Antoni noted Saturday, they need to push the pace against Utah and avoid running the shot clock down repeatedly. The Jazz are 3-1-1 ATS in the last 5 meetings in Houston and 3-2-1 ATS in the last 6 meetings. But the opening National Basketball Association odds for Game 1 were right on the mark: Houston opened at -5.5, exactly where the projections at FiveThirtyEight have them.
Game 2 is Tuesday night in Denver, where the second-seeded Nuggets failed to parlay the NBA's best home-court record (34-7) into a win against the seventh-seeded but much more seasoned Spurs.
Jokic hit a short jumper, Will Barton drained a 3-pointer and then split two free throws to make it 95-90 with 1:57 left. "Hopefully he'll continue to play that way because it's going to be a long series". I'll eat the chalk again with the Rockets.