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t he’ll get more pas

Postby liny195 on Fri Sep 14, 2018 6:07 am

Utah’s tough defense excelled against almost everyone in the league this season.

The Jazz could not Duron Harmon Jersey , however, find a way to slow down Houston’s high-powered offense.

Utah tied for first in the league in the regular season by allowing just 99.8 points per game, but the Rockets averaged 116.3 points against the Jazz in a 4-0 sweep of the season series.

Now the Jazz will get another shot at the top-seeded Rockets when they open the Western Conference semifinals on Sunday after outdoing the big three of Russell Westbrook, Paul George and Carmelo Anthony to eliminate the Thunder in Game 6 on Friday night.

Utah had no answer for MVP front-runner James Harden in the regular season. He averaged 34.3 points against the Jazz, highlighted by a 56-point performance in a 137-110 win in November that set a career-high he has since bested.

”They’re such a unique team,” Jazz coach Quin Snyder said. ”We have to compete, (that’s) the main thing. … They’re so good. They’ve been the best team in the league all year. They’ve beat us. We know how good they are.”

Despite their success against Utah, the Rockets raved about what the team has done in limiting many of the NBA’s top offenses, with Harden saying they are a ”very, very, very good defensive team.”

The Jazz don’t do anything exotic. Harden said it’s simply good, fundamental basketball.

”They’ve got scrappy defenders and they funnel everything to (Rudy) Gobert,” Harden said. ”A 7-foot-2 guy that’s top-3 in shot-blocking and contesting and making shots tough Davon House Jersey , so that’s pretty much it.”

Both the Rockets and the fifth-seeded Jazz are in the semifinals for the second straight year. The Rockets, who beat the Timberwolves 4-1 in the first round to advance, lost to the Spurs last season, and Utah was eliminated by Golden State.

Coach Mike D’Antoni said facing Minnesota’s defense, anchored by Karl-Anthony Towns, was a good warmup for the looks they’ll see against the Jazz and Gobert, a Defensive Player of the Year candidate.

But in the end, the veteran coach believes the Rockets’ success will have more to do with them than anything the Jazz do.

”We’re going to score,” he said of his team, which ranked second in scoring in the regular season. ”To me it depends on us. I just think that we do what we do against anybody and we’re going to score some points if we play well.”

Some things to know about the Jazz-Rockets playoff series:

RUBIO OUT

Jazz starting point guard Ricky Rubio will miss Sunday’s game with a strained left hamstring. Rubio left Friday night’s game against the Thunder in the first quarter with the injury. The team has not said how long he will be out, but Snyder said after Friday’s game he hoped it wasn’t too serious.

”It’s a tough series and it caught up with him a little bit,” Snyder said. ”But hopefully he’ll be all right eventually. We don’t know the timeline.”

Rubio missed a few games late in the season with soreness in the same hamstring, but had not left a game with the problem in the postseason until Friday.

LUC NEARING RETURN

Houston’s Luc Mbah a Moute Marcus Williams Jersey , who missed the entire first round after dislocating his right shoulder, returned to practice this week and is making significant progress toward a return. D’Antoni said he’s unlikely to play on Sunday, but that there is a chance he could play in Game 2 on Wednesday.

NO REST FOR THE WEARY

While Houston has had a few days to rest after wrapping up its series with Minnesota on Wednesday, the Jazz face a quick turnaround after eliminating Oklahoma City on Friday night. The Rockets were off Thursday, but went through full practices on Friday and Saturday in preparation for the series. The Jazz did not practice on Saturday and spent the day traveling to Houston.

”We’ll just do what we can to get ready and get out there,” Snyder said. ”Try not to think about being fatigued or anything like that. I don’t think there’s time for that in the playoffs. Get healthy. Try to get our minds right and compete and see where it goes.”

ROOKIE NO MORE

With how Utah’s Donovan Mitchell played in the first round, the Rockets don’t view him as a rookie anymore. The 13th overall pick in the draft out of Louisville scored 38 points in Game 6 to lead the Jazz to the victory.

”Mitchell’s doing things that I don’t think a rookie’s ever done. … (He’s) playing like he’s a 20-year vet,” D’Antoni said.

Houston’s Trevor Ariza, who will spend the most time guarding Mitchell in this series, has seen him grow since the first time he faced him.

”I think he’s definitely gained a lot of confidence,” Ariza said. ”He’s tough. He’s a really good player. You can’t take him lightly.”



Artie Burns and Joe Haden don't believe the Pittsburgh Steelers have a clear-cut No. 1 cornerback.

The two feel they share that role.

Haden has been a top cornerback in the league throughout his career and Burns, a 2016 first-round pick, feels like he's starting to come into his own as he enters his third season. The two hope a full offseason and training camp together can help a young group of Steelers defensive backs regain some swagger.

"Right now Jordan Mills Jersey , I'm just trying to show him the way I go about my business," Haden said. "Training camp is one of the biggest spots where we can see growth and we can see what the offseason did."

Haden spent his first seven pro seasons in Cleveland. He feels an entire spring of organized team activities and minicamp with Burns and the Steelers will only prove beneficial as the team works through training camp and the preseason.

"I'm trying to understand the whole defense, not just the corners and safety, but also the linebackers and defensive linemen," Haden said. "I'm just trying to get the whole system from the ground up and get an overall grasp of the defense."

Cleveland released Haden on the eve of the 2017 regular season and the Steelers immediately acted. They quickly signed the two-time Pro Bowl cornerback with the hope he could give a young secondary an instant jolt.

"Having a veteran guy in your room that got to the level everybody wants to get to," Burns said, "you kind of sit back and think that you can learn from him to get to that point."

The Steelers did just that last season.

Pittsburgh ranked 16th against the pass in 2016, but Haden provided a necessary boost as the Steelers ended fifth in passing yards allowed. A 45-point outburst by Jacksonville in the AFC divisional playoff marred an otherwise strong season.

"I think the communication was the biggest thing for us, just no blown coverages," Haden said. "In the Jacksonville game, there were a couple times where people were just running free. We have the ability, we have the players, we just have to be on the same page and make sure everybody's covering their man."

That has been the focus for Burns. He has carried a noticeably different Kyle Lauletta Jersey , more confident swagger during training camp practices. He's still locked into regular one-on-one practice battles with four-time All-Pro wide receiver Antonio Brown, a daily matchup Burns welcomes.

"Ever since I got here it's been a battle with (Brown)," Burns said. "It's just something I expect from myself. I don't even request it. I just step up, we go at it and go to work."

It has already paid off for the third-year cornerback.

Burns jumped Brown's slant route during the team's first padded practice and picked off Landry Jones's pass in the end zone. He also jumped a Ben Roethlisberger pass and came up with an interception that would've been returned for a touchdown.

Burns said that sort of intuition comes with experience.

"You can feel the speed of the receiver," Burns said. "A play can only go for so long, so once you figure out the timing of it, that's when you have a chance to make a play on the ball."

Burns seeks similar game-changing plays alongside Haden in the secondary this season.

"(Haden) is helping us in certain situations that he has already been put in before," Burns said. "That's what Joe is doing for us."

NOTES: Coach Mike Tomlin said Brown was sent to Pittsburgh to be evaluated for a "minor, day-to-day" injury. Brown missed the previous two practices with his undisclosed injury. Tomlin wouldn't say what sort of injury. ... S Morgan Burnett (hamstring), Sean Davis (groin), T.J. Watt (hamstring), Vance McDonald (foot) and Alejandro Villanueva (undisclosed) also missed practice on Thursday.

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