Two of the NBA’s best teams over the last couple of months are set to meet in the Western Conference semifinals, as the top-seeded Houston Rockets take on the Utah Jazz.
All games in the series will be broadcast on either ABC, ESPN or TNT (full schedule). If you don’t have cable or can’t get to a TV, you can watch all of the games live on your computer, phone or streaming device by signing up for one of the following cable-free, live-TV streaming services:
Hulu With Live TV: In addition to a Netflix-like on-demand streaming library, Hulu now also offers a bundle of live TV channels, including ABC (live in select markets), ESPN and TNT. You can sign up right here, and you can then watch a live stream of the games on your computer via the Hulu website, or on your phone, tablet or streaming device via the Hulu app.
DirecTV Now: ABC (live in select markets), ESPN and TNT are included in all four of DirecTV Now’s channel packages. You can sign up for a free 7-day trial no matter what package you choose, and you can then watch the games live on your computer via the DirecTV Now website, or on your phone, tablet or streaming device via the DirecTV Now app.
WatchESPN: You can also watch games that are broadcast on ABC or ESPN on your computer via ESPN.com, or on your phone, tablet or streaming device via the WatchESPN app. Games on ABC can be watched for free without cable if you have a participating internet service provider (ISP), while games on ESPN require you to sign in to a TV provider. If you don’t have a participating ISP for the ABC games, or don’t have cable for the ESPN games, you can use your Hulu or DirecTV Now credentials to sign in and watch.
Between January 19–the day Rudy Gobert returned from his 15-game absence stemming from a sprained PCL–and the conclusion of the regular season, the Utah Jazz went 30-8, earning them the league’s second-best winning percentage during that span. The only team better? The Houston Rockets, who were 34-5.
During that stretch to close the season, the Jazz ranked 12th in offensive rating (108.4 points per 100 possessions), first–by far–in defensive rating (97.5) and first in net rating (plus-10.8), while the Rockets ranked second in offense (111.7), third in defense (102.3) and third in net (9.4).
So, this may only be the second round of the playoffs. It may be a No. 1 vs. No. 5 seed. But you can make a strong argument that over the last three months, these have been two of the best five teams in the NBA, making this a highly compelling matchup.
Houston swept the four regular-season meetings with each win coming by double-digits, though just one of those came after Christmas–a 96-85 win in Salt Lake City on February 26. Though the Jazz struggled to score, they managed to limit the Rockets to just 43.0 percent shooting from the field and 27.3 shooting from deep. The Rockets’ 96 points was their fifth lowest output of the season, while their nine three-pointers made was tied for their second lowest mark.
Therein lies what will be one of the most fascinating matchups of these playoffs: Houston’s offense is arguably the best in the NBA (though the Warriors at full strength have a good argument there), while Utah’s defense can make a similar case as the league’s most efficient unit on that end. It’s a battle of elite strengths, and it’s going to play a major factor in determining this series.
For as dominant as Houston has been all year, especially when Chris Paul and James Harden have both been healthy, it would ultimately be surprising not to see them advance to the West finals. But Utah’s defensive makeup serves as a really intriguing potential kryptonite to the Rockets’ ultra-efficient offense, and the Jazz should–at the very least–be able to push to six games.
Source: Heavy Sports