Rudy Can’t Fail (On Defense)

Kind of poetic: Rudy Gobert’s game-winning block in Game 1 was the last play he made before learning he won his third Defensive Player of the Year Award. 

He’s the fourth player in NBA history to win it at least three times, joining Dikembe Mutombo, Ben Wallace, and Dwight Howard.

Gobert received 84 first-place votes. He led the league in blocks (190) and defensive rebounds (10.1), averaging 2.7 BPG (2nd).

“When I started basketball as a kid, if somebody would have told me that I was going to be Defensive Player of the Year, I would have never believed them, let alone three times,” Gobert said.

The 7-1 Frenchman helped give the Jazz a No. 1 seed in the Western Conference — and a well-rounded reputation on both sides of the ball. 

Sure, Utah has that top-rated three-point shooting (16.7 3PM), but defense has been the steady force this season — the Jazz have the third-best defensive rating in the NBA (107.5), holding opponents to just 107.2 PPG (3rd). In six postseason games, they’re 14.9 points better with Rudy on the floor. 

The Jazz are up 1-0 against the Clippers but have their hands full with one of the best NBA offenses. They’ll need Gobert’s A-game on both ends to take L.A. down.