Tonight marks Game 4 of the longest remaining road trip for the Houston Rockets this season. They have a 4 game road trip which is interrupted by the All-Star Break, so it’s really a 3 game road trip, plus another 3 player in late March. So the days when the team spends a lot of time away from the confines of the Toyota Center are getting shorter.
That might be a bad thing since Houston’s last five wins have all been on the road. In fact, the last time home fans saw the Rockets win at Yote was at the end of a 7-game winning streak.
the Utah Jazz are 29-15 and sit fourth in the Western Conference. When fully healthy, they can hang out with anyone in the league. While generational hatred for the Jazz is rampant, these Jazz don’t have the same instigators as the teams of the 90s or 00s. There’s neither Andrei Kirilenko nor John Stockton on the team. Carlos Boozer does not cross this door.
The Jazz are interesting because you look at the team as it is currently built and you wonder how they can significantly improve. They have an alpha on offense (Donovan Mitchell) and an elite rim protector (Rudy Gobert) to offset their perimeter defense. They surrounded Mitchell with another ball handler (Mike Conley Jr.) and shooters (Royce O’Neale, Bojan Bogdanovic, Rudy Gay and Joe Ingles). They even have an electric sixth man to help guide the attack when Mitchell is seated (Jordan Clarkson).
So if you’re in Utah, how do you max out that list? Every player mentioned is at least a year older on their deals, except for Ingles. The Jazz don’t necessarily need another player dominating the ball since (when healthy) they already have two such players. They might be able to use a shooter that gives them a consistent two-way upgrade over the shooters currently on their roster. Getting another big one would be a mistake as Gobert is already irreplaceable to them and if he gets injured the season is over anyway.
They really could use Chris Paul, but then again, everyone could use Chris Paul. And CP3 is not available. Other than that, the Jazz seems to be lacking in dogs. There is no PJ Tucker on this team. There’s a reason you’ve seen more Jae’Sean Tate speculation headed there than Eric Gordon. But Houston isn’t trading Tate for peanuts. They know how valuable it is.
I don’t really have an answer, but I think trading Ingles for a “tough” might be a solution. Or maybe they just go with what they have. However, if this team fails to do so, they are gone for a long offseason as they cannot relaunch it with the same core after so many years of disappointment. This year will tell us a lot about Utah’s championship window.
Anyway, Mitchell is out tonight due to concussion protocols.
Tipping is at 8:00 p.m. CT on AT&T SportsNet Southwest