Video: 15-second sequence shows Rudy Gobert’s expected, yet unstoppable impact on defense
The Utah Jazz tied up the series at one game apiece, making the adjustments the Houston Rockets expected them to make, yet they still proved unable to stop the inevitable — a surging road team playing with superior intensity and forcing the Rockets into difficult shots and decisions.
Forward Luc Mbah A Moute, who faced this team last season as a member of the L.A. Clippers noted how the shell of Utah’s defense is based on center Rudy Gobert, re-directing their opponents’ offense for him to deal with.
Yet the Rockets proved unable to decode this masquerading defense and fell prey to their team defense, based on three stunts from the 7-foot-1 Stifle Tower.
In this play, Gobert is asked to patrol high in the paint, first contesting a driving Eric Gordon, then rotating to get in the way of P.J. Tucker, then chasing hard after an open Gordon, ready to launch from the right wing, once again forcing a drive and a mid-air pass to Chris Paul, which wound up as a Donovan Mitchell steal.
There’s the brilliance of Rudy Gobert. Has the recognition and ability to execute a closeout of Gordon to force the drive and ensuing turnover after walling off 2 HOU drives #TwitterNBAShow https://t.co/jl2wM3MqL5 pic.twitter.com/iO9IbDERi8
— Nate Duncan (@NateDuncanNBA) May 3, 2018
The Rockets seem intelligent enough to figure out how the Jazz comprise their defense, using the frontrunner for the Defensive Player of the Year award as their core anchor — but that doesn’t mean they could easily solve it, despite their proven firepower.
Houston shot a mere 40 percent from the field in Game 2 and only 45 percent in Game 1, mainly benefitting from a 17-of-32 night from the 3-point line.
The Jazz defense has proved efficient throughout most of the postseason, barring some superhuman effort from some of the best stars in the league — and while the Rockets might thing they have it figured out, it’s much easier said than done.
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