Preview and Chat: The Utah Jazz

Kurt —  November 24, 2006

How is Utah 11-1? The answer is offense. Right now the Jazz are the best offense in the NBA, racking up 115.2 points per 100 possessions, much better than second place Detroit (111.9) and far ahead of the 10th-ranked Lakers (107.2).

The Jazz are shooting a very nice 52.6% (eFG%) as a team, but more importantly they are grabbing a league-leading 33.6% of their missed shots — they are beasts on the offensive boards. Think about it, one out of three missed shots they get another crack at.

Driving that is the healthy and resurgent Carlos Boozer, who is grabbing 21.6% of available rebounds and combine that with his 78.6% shooting percentage inside and you see why the Lakers need to box out and crash the boards, or they get to watch some easy putbacks. By the way, Boozer is still shooting a decent 43.9% on jumpers.

Bet the over. While the Jazz have been an offensive force, they are 20th in the NBA in defensive efficiency right now, actually worse than the Lakers. Other teams are shooting a pretty average 49.3% against the Jazz, but they are creating few turnovers, and the result is giving up 107.8 points per 100 possessions.

For the record, after a couple games of good defense the Lakers defensive efficiency is at 105.6, 14th in the NBA.

You know who can play defense? UCLA. Have you watched much of them this season? Very aggressive trapping defense that is fun to watch, and is slowing other teams way down and forcing them to use up most of the shot clock every possession. You can see the frustration creep into opponents as the game wears on, leading to unnecessary risks. The Bruins are going to be very good this year.

Maybe he wasn’t a bad pick. The Jazz got laughed at by the mainstream media last year after they passed on Chris Paul to take Deron Williams. Now, Utah is laughing. The guys is running the offense well, shooting 55.4% (eFG%) on jumpers and playing good defense.

Kevin from ClipperBlog, after his team fell to the Jazz, said he was very impressed with how well Williams fits into what coach Jerry Sloan wants to do, much better than Paul would have. For what it’s worth, he also said that you can’t sleep on just how good a coach Sloan is.

Who is this Paul Millsap? What, you didn’t watch a lot of Louisiana Tech hoops last season? Millsap led the NCAA in rebounding last season, grabbing 24.5% of the available defensive boards and 18.1% of his offensive chances. But that was the college level, the WAC no less, you say? So far this season he is grabbing 17.1% of the rebounds when he is on the floor (only Bynum and Kwame have better percentages on the Lakers, and they both have at least 5 inches on the guy). As he should, Millsap has been shooting 70% inside, which means easy putbacks if the Lakers don’t box out (see a theme here?).

Best Name Since Enron Field. This past summer the Jazz made the switch from The Delta Center to the EnergySolutions Arena. The building is now named after a company that disposes nuclear waste.

Things to look for. Can the Lakers keep Deron Williams shooting from deep? He is shooting just 26.7% on threes but fills it up from the mid-range. Good on him, by the way, last year he jacked up a lot of threes but this season he’s stepping inside the line to take a shot he can hit (ahem, Jordan Farmar). Can’t let Williams get open looks in the midrange.

Crash the defensive glass or you are toast, Lakers.

Turnovers by the Lakers will be key — the Jazz are creating turnovers on just 15.7% of opponent possessions, but the Lakers have been coughing it up at a 20.2% clip. If the Lakers give that potent Utah offense a lot of extra shots with turnovers — or by giving up a bunch of offensive rebounds — the Jazz will win handily. Don’t and this should be a close, entertaining game.

I’m out of town until next Tuesday, but you are in the capable hands of Gatinho and Rob until then. Oh, and

GO IRISH!!

Kurt

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20 responses to Preview and Chat: The Utah Jazz

  1. Okur vs. Kwame/Bynum will be interesting to watch too. I have to give a little love to Fisher before tonight. I enjoyed watching that guy play here, and I’m happy he’s in a good situation again.

  2. http://sports.espn.go.com/nba/news/story?id=2674246

    ESPN.com is reporting that Kirilenko will be available to play tonight against the Lakers.

  3. GO IRISH?… lol.. come on kurt.. anyway this is our biggest test to date… I hope that we can see what we are made of on the road and no one gets hurt and hopefully we come out with a win. I’m going to start praying right now..

  4. Kobe’s started hot, hopefully the rest of the team can keep moving around despite it.

  5. Smush has GOT to go to the pine here once Farmar is up and ready. Against any shooting Point Guard he absolutely gets ripped by going underneath screens. Farmar, goes through them like he should.

  6. The good thing about being home was that I could actually watch parts of a Laker game (don’t have time or opportunity to watch games at college). A couple (obvious) things I noticed:

    Where was Kobe in the 4th quarter?

    Odom got to the line on 2 seemingly bogus calls, but there were 26 foul calls on both teams.

    Rebounds were the difference, just like you said.

  7. Deron Williams is really good.

  8. Looking at the “things to look for”: the Lakers had only 11 TOs, but Deron Williams got his shot in the 4th (well, not all of them, thanks to Kobe) and the Jazz had 15 offensive boards on 36 missed shots (45 rebounds overall). It was still a close, entertaining game, though.

    Solid games from Lamar, Kwame, and Kobe tonight. I’d put Luke in that group, but he missed a few shots around the rim and had a questionable pass late in the contest, for the second straight game. Sasha came out of his slump for one night, but Smush fell back in his.

    The way I see it, we played the #1 team in the NBA, at their gym, were manhandled on the boards, and still nearly came away with a victory. You can’t win ‘em all, and if you’re gonna lose, it might as well be like this.

    The Lakers don’t have to wait too long to exact revenge …

  9. No excuses, a loss is a loss, and I hate losing. But it wasn’t a discouraging loss. Utah came off a 4-day layoff, and we hung with them for about 45 minutes. I’m bothered that we couldn’t close out the game strong, but still firmly believe we’ll beat Utah when we play them next week.

    1st in the Pacific, we can do it. Golden State seems to be wilting. Phoenix is coming on strong, but will have Amare the Albatross to deal with all season. The Kings are mediocre, and lack height. And the Clippers… I can’t believe I’m saying it, but they’re our biggest threat. If we can beat them AGAIN next week, we’re looking at a home court in the first round of the playoffs.

  10. Smush has to take his open shots. Its so frustrating to watch him catch a ball that he could shoot for an open 3 and instead of shoot, dribble and make a bad pass and kill the flow of the offense.

    I really with the team could get Bynum some more touches too. It seems like he disappears after the first quarter in so many games.

  11. Yeah, Deron Williams is really good. I think he’ll end up being better than CP3. But he better learn quick not to try to dunk on Kobe like that ever again.

    I know people are going to be upset that Kobe didn’t take over the game in the 4th, but believe me it’s better to build confidence in guys like Lamar, Kwame, and Smush now than latter in the season. We know where Kobe is going to be come the fourth quarter at the end of the year. Now is the time to build confidence in our other guys.

    That three buy Fish at the end of the third really came back to bite us.

    Where did all of Smush Parkers confidence go?

    I have to say that I was impressed with their effort though. At least they didn’t get blown out like the Clippers did.

  12. Great comments on the game and right on re UCLA; Collison might be the quickest guard I’ve ever seen defensively. Lakers looking really promising. Best Phil Jackson observation I can give (lived in Chgo for his Bulls’ reign and LA for his Lakers’ stint) is that his teams ALWAYS peak in May. They’re doing a lot of developmental work at this point in the season, so giving one up to the hottest team in the league to let the kids learn how to play is par for Nov. This includes Kobe in the role he seems to be taking on. And Damn! Jerry Sloan still looks like he’d rather break your nose than let you score!

  13. Just a thought – the disparity between conferences is starting to become ridiculous. Miami is 4-8 and has a horrible team; they are a game out of the playoff cutoff. If they were in the west, they would be second from the bottom rather than one from the top 8. I’m already seeing something like what happened last year, and this year in the World Series. The team coming from the tougher conference just runs out of gas because they had to drive an extra day behind the wheel with no sleep.

  14. John Vancouver: The only thing is that last year the East was pretty damn good. Not as good as the West, but you had Miami and Detroit in that conference, so it was not a cake walk. But now with Shaq out and Big Ben on the Bulls ,that conference has gotten pretty soft. Maybe the Cavs or the Magic can emerge to become elite teams before the year is up.

    Laker fans: the Jazz are a great example of what patience and savvy front office work can do for your franchise. They pretty much have the same team as last year, but with the additions of role players DFish, Millsap, and Ronnie Brewer. The Lakers are a very good team. But imagine what a little patience (We’ve already seen major growth with players like Lamar, Luke, Bynum, and Kwame), one more addition (point guard?), and a tweak here and there would do for the lakers. I’m not talking about a good team, like they currently are, but a POWERHOUSE team capable of winning multiple championships.

    I’m hoping Utah and the Lakers become the elite teams of the West. I think Phoenix only has one more run in them, because Nash is going to slow down (it’s just the law of age and a bad back). The Spurs have already shown they aren’t as good as they used to be. Especially if they have to play Dallas in the playoffs. The Clippers are there, but it’s tough when your leading scorer and leader of your team is on the verge of retirement.

    I think the Lakers and Jazz can matchup and beat anyone they play in the playoffs. It would be great to see the Jazz and the Lakers become rivals because Utah and their fans are very easy to cheer against. I would love for the Lakers to be the ones to Knock them out of the playoffs (MJ Style) every year.

    Again the key with the Lakers is patience. Patience in developing Bynum and Kwame (Did you see how well he played on the offensive side of the ball???)…Patience in developing their young point guard Jordan Farmar…Patience in keeping their roster together and not making any drastic moves.

    Fans it’s time we forget about deals for Garnett and such and support the development of this team, because patience, support, and consistency (Three things the Utah Jazz have always had) will get you a long way in this league…

  15. I agree, Bynum really needs more touches. They need to make a point of getting it into him like they made the point of getting it to Kwame in the fourth. Bynum needs to poses an offensive threat to other teams which will help Lamar and KB immensely. I just don’t get why Phil refuses to run anything through him.

  16. Jones: agreeing with your take on Garnett. He’s no savior, and we’d have to give up waaay too much to get him. Chemistry wins games. Lack of any is why the GP-Mailman Lakers didn’t win it all. And why the Spurs and Pistons are consistent contenders.

    Man, if we’d have gotten Cassell instead of Radmonovich… well, I’m not sure he’d fit in with Kobe as well, but it could have been a devastating backcourt.

    What’s the status with Vlade and Turiaf? These are key role players for us who may not be able to contribute all year due to naggin injuries.

  17. It’s a touchy situation with Bynum and Kwame. I still think Kwame needs to learn to play the 4. Starting lineup by the end of the year: 1. Farmar 2. Kobe 3. Odom 4. Kwame 5. Bynum. Luke is our sixth man. If Kwame and Bynum can’t handle the minutes, Odom can always slide to the 4 at points during the game to give the big guys rest. That team wins a championship, I think.

  18. Notre Dame…..EXPOSED!

  19. I live up in the Bay Area now, and was watching the Warriors dismantle the Jazz tonight. Their key to success was their big men. The offense ran through Biedrens and Murphy often, with quick passes and attacking the basket. Boozer never got into the game because he had to play tough D.

    Our Lakers can do this. Neither Warriors big man is a low-post, back-to-the-basket kind of player. Just like Kwame and Bynum. Movement and passing made it work.

  20. Kobe’s block was the best one I’ve seen in a long time.