Rubio Explodes for Utah in Game 3 (OKC Game Plans for Mitchell, Gets Roasted by Ricky…Westbrook Guarantees He’ll Shut Rubio Down in Game 4…Strap In…This Is Going to be Fun)
NBA’s international fans have been watching Ricky Rubio do amazing things since he debuted as a 14 year-old sensation with Liga ACB in Spain. Rubio has dazzled with his court vision and his quick hands, but a shaky outside shot has kept him from reaching the All-Star level that some imagined for his when he joined Minnesota in 2011, as a 21 year-old. The trade that sent him to Salt Lake City has brought new life to Utah, pairing him with other stars from all over the map, notably the Stifle Tower, Ruby Gobert, and the Australian slow-motion-genius Joe Ingles. Donovan Mitchell’s incredibly rookie season has propelled the Jazz, alongside the savvy Rubio. As OKC’s Billy Donovan clearly game-planned to stop Mitchell, Rubio was left in one-on-one situations, with Russell Westbrook (a hyperactive, less-than-steady defender) daring him to shoot from deep. Rubio, a career 32% shooter from the three-point line, raised that percentage to a more palatable 35% from deep this season.
Post-All-Star break Rubio (23 games) has boosted that number to 41%. With Mitchell taking more of the opponent’s energy, Rubio’s shooting (and confidence in his long-mediocre shot) has risen. Rubio finding Ingles cross-court is wonderful for those that love difficult passes.
This may mean the difference in the Jazz-Thunder series. Rubio’s shooting may also mean the Jazz-Rockets (Rockets up 2–1 on Timberwolves, but will not lose that series) could be very intriguing.