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Tuesday, September 26, 2023


Reservations for six: Postseason rematch outcome determined

The Houston Rockets secured a rematch with the Utah Jazz in the playoffs when they beat the Los Angeles Clippers 93-75 Wednesday and the number four-seeded Jazz lost to San Antonio Spurs 109-80. The win gives the Rockets the number five seed in the playoffs as the series begins Saturday in Houston.

The Rockets were one of only four teams to win in Utah this year. They beat the Jazz in the season’s second game. Utah will likely win all three home games against the Rockets after winning 37 home games, the most of any team in the league this season.

The Rockets went 9-7 after their record 22-game winning streak came to an end March 18 against the Boston Celtics at home. The Rockets also bested last season’s win total, going 55-27 after winning 52 games in 2007. Houston finished in third place in the Southwest Division, only one game behind the New Orleans Hornets and the Spurs.

Rockets guard Tracy McGrady had 11 assists and point guard Bobby Jackson added 15 points in the season finale win against the Clippers for the team. Point guard Rafer Alston missed another game because of a strained hamstring.

The Rockets hope to avenge their game seven home loss from last year’s Western Conference playoffs. Houston will have to rely on the play of McGrady, who has yet to lead a team out of the first round. The loss of center Yao Ming and the inexperience of the Rockets bench in postseason play will make it tough.

Jackson must step up and play well with his experience during Alston’s absence. McGrady cannot settle for the long jumpers and will have to attack a physical Jazz team, while taking advantage of mismatches against him. Overall, the Jazz are too powerful and playoff ready. They will take out the Rockets in six games to advance.

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