Jazz’s Rudy Gobert claims he slows Russell Westbrook down as 1-on-1 defender
The Utah Jazz tried to deploy two-time Defensive Player of the Year Rudy Gobert on Houston Rockets guard Russell Westbrook on Saturday night. It was certainly an interesting tactic from Jazz head coach Quin Snyder to say the least.
Though Utah dropped the home game, 120-110, Gobert believes that putting him on Westbrook at least makes the former MVP work when he’s driving to the bucket.
Via Eric Walden of The Salt Lake Tribune.
Rudy Gobert, on him guarding Russell Westbrook: “I think I would do it again. I think having Russ being guarded by one of our guards is a mismatch, and at least when I’m guarding him he doesn’t get to the rim. … We make him work, and he’s able to make those shots sometimes.” pic.twitter.com/Pa4ujMYQPQ
— Eric Walden (@tribjazz) February 23, 2020
Gobert mostly sagged off of Westbrook when he was at the perimeter. It essentially left him at the three-point line, where he has struggled for the most part of the season.
Unfortunately, the tactics didn’t work as Westbrook still finished his night with 34 points on an efficient 14-of-26 shooting. And he didn’t just do his damage in the paint.
He made Utah’s defense pay by making his mid-range shots and a couple of triples. Westbrook definitely deserves a lot of credit for converting the shots that Gobert gave him and making some hustle plays as well.
Westbrook is aware of what opposing teams are doing in defending the Rockets. And for him, he doesn’t think putting a big man on him is going to work given his ability to slice and dice the defense with his penetration.
Utah is notorious for deploying some gimmick defenses, especially against the Rockets. In last year’s playoffs, the Jazz opted to defend James Harden on his side to take away his patented step-back triple.
The tactic backfired as Harden often got to the cup and opened up shooters on the perimeter with nobody guarding him in front. This resulted in a 4-1 Rockets series win.
Should these two rivals meet again in this year’s postseason, expect Utah to come up with another interesting defensive strategy in an attempt to slow down a similarly interesting offensive philosophy from the Rockets.