Saturday’s loss shows the Utah Jazz has a long way to go to match the Warriors’ small-ball success


Season Supplement by Hassan Whiteside considered by some to be an extra step for the Utah Jazz. After all, with Rudy Gay’s previous contract, they will certainly launch small squads non-stop in the minutes Rudy Gobert comes on from the bench.

Avoiding a repeat of their post-season meltdown at the hands of the Clippers certainly depends on that added versatility, doesn’t it?

Good, Saturday’s 123-116 loss to the Golden State Warriors leads the Western Conference shows that there are still a few NBA-centric holes in that grand scheme.

First, the Jazz clearly missed Whiteside, who was in the process of concussion of the tournament due to a misguided elbow from teammate Jordan Clarkson the night before. Their defense is really problematic. And second, the ongoing action only reinforces how much worse Utah’s small-ball defense is currently compared to the… Golden State Warriors.

The most basic and stark contrast to how Utah’s traditional lineup compares to smallball went on Saturday: Three-time DPOY Gobert added 10 in 34:58 game time, while Gay six feet. 8 is minus 19 in 19:52.

“Without Hassan, with the way we played, it certainly hurt us tonight,” Gobert said afterwards.

No one pointed a finger at Gay – just Gobert, Quin Snyder, Donovan Mitchell and Mike Conley emphasized when it came to Jazz that there simply wasn’t much of a chance to work on a particular scheme – but two inevitable truths defined the periods in which Gay played as a small center ball: Jazz is very used to playing with a big rim guard… and he is definitely not a big rim guard.

After Gobert was eliminated at the end of the first quarter, Golden State started getting a lot of open skins and, not coincidentally, generating more footage. This trend continued well into the second half, as the Warriors made 14 of 23 attempts.

Too many times, an outfield defender will simply be hit while driving, and Gay is already out of position to be unable to return to the perimeter, or, if he does, an extensive shooter after that would lie in the corner, a simple passing.

“It’s different if there isn’t a traditional big team in Hassan or Rudy there, because our defense is based solely on forcing people to come to our big team,” explained Conley. “So when that happens we have to retrain our minds and readjust, remember not to let your guy beat you. Everyone is activated into a more helping situation, as opposed to trying to turn it into a two-on-two with adults and guardians as we are used to. So it just takes a while to get used to it.”

And the Jazz – whose small-ball lineup usually includes Gay, Bojan Bogdanovic, Royce O’Neale, Mitchell, and Joe Ingles, Jordan Clarkson or sometimes Conley – there’s still a long way to go since then.

“Clearly the group does not have the same continuity. I don’t think that’s to be expected right now,” Snyder said. “But obviously, that group, being thrown into that situation, especially on the defensive, it’s a challenge for everyone.”

It remains to be seen if that team can emulate it, but the Warriors offer an impressive sample nonetheless.

Golden State leads the league in defensive ratings by a substantial margin this season. Former DPOY Draymond Green was clearly a key ingredient in that, but the Warriors looked pretty impressive even with him out on Saturday, being relegated under COVID-19 health and safety protocols.

When asked before the game what makes the Warriors’ transitional style so effective, Snyder replied: “The length and execution.

“Do it at the point of attack, where they can follow the guy, to negate that first pick and roll; and then once that happens, their ability to both be up front, and actually shift and shrink the floor – that’s one of the reasons they generate as much revenue as they do,” he said. . “And they have large wings capable of defending multiple positions.”

Utah has certainly fallen on a bunch of buzzsaws among them.

While 6-foot-2 Steph Curry is the obvious exception, and Gary Payton II (6-3) and Jordan Poole (6-4) are also on the relatively smaller side, Andrew Wiggins (6-7), Otto Porter (6 -8), Kevon Looney (6-9), Andre Iguodala (6-6), Juan Toscano-Anderson (6-6), and Jonathan Kuminga (6-7) certainly played a part in this. makes things difficult for Jazz.

In three-quarters of the game, Jazz’s most prized offensive play has been pretty far removed from its usual efficiency and prolificness.

In the first quarter, they scored 24 points by shooting 7 to 21 (33.3%). In second place, 26 out of 9 out of 23 (39.1%). Game three saw them enjoy some degree of flamboyant success, as a combination of transitional opportunities and Clarkson’s continued penetration into the paintwork broke the mark and empowered the marksmen. goalkeeper, scoring 41 out of 14 out of 24 from the pitch (58.3%). But by the fourth inning, the Golden State’s defense once again found its nerve, and the Jazz fell to 25 points out of 10 out of 24 (41.7%).

The biggest problem was the way the Warriors forced Utah to be indecisive and play slow and dribble excessively. There was a reason Golden State had a 22-5 advantage in first-half assists and a 39-19 margin for the game.

“When you play against guys like Iguodala, Toscano-Anderson, Otto Porter, Wiggins, sometimes the first look is the highlight. Looney, too, down there. Sometimes that first look has to be the push,” says Mitchell. “Sometimes it’s not two dribbles, it’s a dribble and a shot, and maybe do that quick triple, that quick shot. Because sometimes you do that second dribble and you stick to the paint, now you have all those bodies around you and that makes the decision harder. We’re a reading-based team, and it makes those reads more challenging as they do it the way they do. ”

The Jazz will get another shot at the Warriors’ minor game plans when they visit the Chase Center in San Francisco on January 23. Of course, Golden State might just have both Green and Klay Thompson at the time.

However, on the flip side – Whites should come back too. Saturday’s loss shows the Utah Jazz has a long way to go to match the Warriors’ small-ball success

Beth Allcock

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