Three thoughts on the Utah Jazz’s 108-100 win over the Dallas Mavericks from Salt Lake Tribune writer Andy Larsen.
1. Interesting defensive strategy for the Jazz
This Jazz/Mavs game was without Luka Doncic, but both teams tried some interesting defensive strategies that dictated the terms of the game. As a result, the game had the fewest possessions of any the Jazz have played all year.
Ochai Agbaji explained the Jazz side of things.
“It goes back to the personal,” Agbaji said. “Josh Green, we wanted him to be the playmaker, have the ball in his hands most of the time and take it away from Spencer Dinwiddie. And then in those situations, it’s just about flying, being active, trying to psych them up somehow, getting them to do something like travel.”
So that you can see what the Jazz did, take this example:
The Jazz are literally double-teaming with Dinwiddie. Clarkson leaves the man completely behind him, and then Conley leaves Green to protect both Reggie Bullock and Josh Green on the perimeter. And yes, Dinwiddie does all three of these, but you’ll usually have to be okay with the steps back.
If Frank Ntilikina was in the game, the Jazz were also okay with ignoring him.
This worked reasonably well I think. Dinwiddie made some mistakes, as did Green.
Dinwiddie is better with the ball in his hands, but he probably hasn’t seen many double teams in the NBA, certainly not with Luka Doncic on the court as well. Green, meanwhile, is a youngster who recently started getting big minutes: he’s not very easy to pass. The result was putting players in situations they don’t often face.
In the end, I thought it was quite successful. The Mavs typically have a 107 offensive rating with Luka off the floor, tonight his offensive rating was 106. For the 26th-ranked defense in the league, he’ll definitely take that.
I also think this is a look that could work well against other teams, if the Jazz play as well as they did tonight. If Kyrie Irving or Damian Lillard start to get some success, bringing them two is one way to try to quench that.
2. Some basketball nonsense worked tonight
This was also a strange game where I felt the outcome of possessions had very little to do with the quality of defense, for both teams. Malik Beasley and Jordan Clarkson are good shooters, but they had some weird shots.
This is a bullshit:
How is this. Nonsense Clarkson is capable of… but probably not the shot you prepare.
The same goes for Spencer Dinwiddie’s stuff, including this 40-footer.
Or sometimes you miss one of those so badly that it’s just an airball, allowing your teammate to run in and make a layup:
I think sometimes it’s easy to forget how random basketball is. The best-laid plans can be bested by a player simply taking a lucky shot, or a rebound that just happens to be going in the right or wrong direction.
How can we quantify such a thing? Well, we can go to the tracking data. In particular, we can see how teams shoot at the end of the shot clock, or when a defender is close to a shot.
Unfortunately, tracking data is usually not uploaded until the next day after a game, so we can’t see it immediately after posting this Triple Team. When we have that data, I will check if my hypothesis was correct.
3. Patrick Beverley makes me laugh
This is exaggerated, to be sure, but we’re going to talk about former Jazzman for a month, Patrick Beverley. He’s done two things in the last week that have been absolutely hilarious, and I treasure them.
First, this from last Friday. Damian Lillard, the star of the Portland Trail Blazers, had a tough game against the Lakers, shooting just 5-for-17 from the field. Then Beverley mocked his “Give Me Time” celebration by pretending his watch was broken.
This is an excellent performance. PatBev is winning every game of charades he plays. Hitting the watch, taking it off, putting it in his fake pocket… I don’t know if he had planned it beforehand, but regardless, it’s amazing.
Then tonight the Lakers lost on national TV because LeBron James didn’t call. Beverley then took one of the photographers’ cameras and showed referee Eric Lewis a crowd photo.
Afterwards, Eric Lewis fielded questions about the incident from a pool reporter.
Pulling out a camera, I would say, is not inappropriate. I believe it is permissible evidence in a court of law. In general, I like Eric Lewis, actually, but calling a technical at this point after the refs cost the Lakers the game, literally and objectively, is unnecessary.
Imagine if this wasn’t punished. Would we start a trend of players showing referees photos of fouls? And…wouldn’t that be quite funny, actually?
Beverley’s detractors call him a clown. Did you know? Being a clown is cool! This game is entertainment, and too often we forget about it. Beverley hasn’t, and that makes him one of the most fun players to watch in the NBA.
(And yes, part of me wishes the Jazz had kept it instead of trading it for Talen Horton-Tucker.)
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