Rockets vs. Jazz prediction: Utah can't win with a diminished Ricky Rubio

Spurs upset Jokic, No. 2 Nuggets

The Utah Jazz are back in the National Basketball Association playoffs, and for the second straight year they are the No. 5 seed out of the Western Conference.

"He was spectacular", Spurs coach Gregg Popovich said.

With the game on the line, San Antonio guard Derrick White stole the ball to help the Spurs win Game 1 in Denver 101-96. "I don't care what you do".

Denver used a big second half - that was kick started by their defense - to rally and nearly steal the victory. The Nuggets have lost seven of their last 12 home games against San Antonio. Only three main rotation players have been to the playoffs, with forward Paul Millsap (87 games) the only one with extensive experience.

Two other bright spots was the play of Gary Harris and Will Barton.

In my opinion, the Nuggets played a good game. He recorded 15 points and shot 6-19.

Game 1 of the Western Conference quarterfinal series is Saturday night in Denver. The Rockets' aggressive defense had snuffed out every action the Jazz attempted on the possession. The Nuggets must find a way to get Nikola Jokic more involved in the offense before the Spurs double team him.

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The funk that the Nuggets were in offensively to end the regular season carried on into the playoffs.

San Antonio with not be able to keep up with the Nuggets West Coast pace throughout this entire series. The Spurs did not allow a single fast-break point, but ultimately it came down to shots not falling.

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. Not only did the Rockets hold the Jazz to 90 points and 39 percent shooting, they shut the Jazz down in the first and fourth quarters holding them to 20 and 19 points respectively. I assumed Royce O'Neal - who saw varying levels of success against Harden in last year's second round - would bear the brunt of that responsibility. However, Denver missed open 3-pointers on four subsequent possessions with a chance to tie it.

"Everyone here is hungry, even the young guys", Forbes told The Express-News.

Guard Isaiah Thomas has played 25 playoff games but might not see any significant court time.

Denver had plenty of opportunities to keep homecourt advantage with a win despite Murray - who went 8-24 from the field including the late game mid-range miss and also being stripped by White in the final seconds - not having a great shooting night.

The Jazz did slow down the Beard slightly, limiting him to only three free-throw attempts (11.0 season average), but couldn't stop his overall impact. But now that they've gone all the way down to 213.5 points, it makes sense to step in and take the "over" instead. They contested shots, limited Aldridge and DeRozan's production, and made the extra pass for open shots. They had hoped to avoid seeing the defending champs so soon, but ended up with the No. 4 seed following a one-point loss to the Oklahoma City Thunder in the regular-season finale.

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