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Mike D’Antoni, Houston cautious of Jazz PG Ricky Rubio

Ricky Rubio, Mike D'Antoni

Ahead of the Houston Rockets’ first-round playoff matchup against the Utah Jazz, Rockets head coach Mike D’Antoni acknowledges the fact that his team’s opponent is dangerous. Although the Rockets hold the home-court advantage, D’Antoni warns Houston about being too complacent, especially since the Jazz will have point guard Ricky Rubio to run their offense this time around.

In an interview with the Houston Chronicle’s Jonathan Feigen, D’Antoni admits that Rubio makes the Jazz a better team and that the Rockets will need to find a way to contain him.

“Just like any great point guard – he is that – he has a great ability to pass the basketball and get in the paint and finish. He’s been an underrated point guard probably for a long time and last year, they didn’t have him. He had a hamstring problem. He’s formidable and he’s tough. We don’t do anything different. Trying to keep him out of the paint is going to be a big key.

“They didn’t have Rubio last year. That alone makes them a better team.”

Rubio missed the Jazz’s second-round tilt the Rockets last season due to injury, a series Houston won in five games.

When healthy, Rubio is one of the most effective two-way point guards in the league — especially when his jumper is falling. As important as he is for Utah offensively, Rubio’s biggest impact may come at the other end, where he’s likely to be tasked with guarding either James Harden or Chris Paul every moment he’s on the floor.