Apr 29, 2012; San Antonio, TX, USA; Utah Jazz center Al Jefferson (25) and Paul Millsap (24) during the second half of game one in the Western Conference quarterfinals of the 2012 NBA Playoffs against the San Antonio Spurs at the AT&T Center. The Spurs won 106-91. Mandatory Credit: Soobum Im-US PRESSWIRE
Most all observers knew that the Jazz were at disadvantages all over the court against the Spurs, except in terms of size. Most all observers also knew that the Jazz couldn't match the Spurs in terms of guard scoring, especially at a distance. The only solution was that the Jazz were going to have to hit the glass if they were going to remain competitive in these games. After Game 1 the question can be asked: Did the Jazz rebound well enough?
Well, you always fret about 'the one that got away,' and some butterfingers types of plays by our best rebounders made me shake my head. But that said, the difference in this game did not come down to one possession. Though, we can still look at the rebounding data.
For the regular seasons the Utah Jazz collected a grand total of 2916 total rebounds, while the San Antonio Spurs got 2836. Since they both played the same number of games (66) we can compare apples to apples. The Jazz, as a result, averaged 44.2 rebounds a game, and the Spurs 42.9. Both are really great numbers, and both teams are very good at collecting misses. If you stack them up against one another (and no, I'm not going to bombard you with a ton of pie charts -- and yes, I'm looking at 6 of them right now on my dual monitor set-up) into one big old rebounding pie the Jazz have a slight lead -- 51% to 49%. It's basically even when we judge these two teams' relative quantitative rebounding prowess.
What happened in this afternoon / morning's game? Well, the Jazz grabbed 45, to the Spurs' 39. In the same pie that means the Jazz have increased a bit -- they now control 54% of the pie, and the spurs only 46%. Simply put, the Jazz got more rebounds (duh), and they also got more rebounds then they normally would -- when looking at the actual rebounding numbers for both teams based upon 66 games. The Jazz out rebounded San Antonio, and out did themselves too.
But that's total rebounds. The key "strength vs. strength" issue in this series is going to be San Antonio's amazing defensive rebounding ability vs. the Jazz's amazing offensive rebound ability. For their season the Spurs grabbed 2153 defensive rebounds, while letting only 680 of them go to the other team. They got 76% of all the misses shots when they were on defense, and the team on offense only got the offensive board 24% of the time.
For the Jazz, they grabbed 861 offensive rebounds this season away from the defense, who in turn managed 1988 total defensive rebounds against the Jazz. That means the Jazz are snagging the offensive rebound on 30% of their missed shots. When you put to two together (The Spurs 76% defensive rebounding, and the Jazz 30% offensive rebounding), what do you think happened?
Well, in this game the Jazz got 13 offensive rebounds, and the spurs had 29 defensive rebounds. That translates to the Spurs getting the rebound 69% of the time, and the Jazz getting it 31% of the time. Here, again, we see the Jazz dominate the glass (The Spurs are GREAT at defensive rebounds, but were -7% off). Not only did they win the battle against the Spurs here, but they also got more offensive rebounds (as a percentage of available missed shots) against the Spurs than they did against the rest of the league. Clearly 31% > 30%.
So the Jazz did their work on the glass today. But was it enough? The 15 point margin of defeat clearly says no. Either the Jazz need to straight up make more shots (reducing the total number of potential offensive rebounds), straight up make the Spurs miss more shots, or just banging harder.
The Spurs defense is very solid. And the Jazz only shot 42.1 fg% today. So yes, it's possible that the Jazz can make more shots. Can the Jazz defense get better? Well, there's room for improvement for sure; however, I'm not so certain that we will get better in the span of two nights. The easiest thing is to keep trying to increase the size of our inside domination. The Jazz need to keep banging hard inside and keep crashing the glass.
It's the only thing working right now -- especially when you combine the fact that rebounds give you the ball back. Period. Blocks do not guarantee that. Making your man miss does not either (The Spurs had 10 offensive rebounds in this game, let's not gloss over). The Jazz need every possession they can get because right now they are not making the most of them.
Did the Jazz rebound well enough? Well, no. They did a great job. They have to do an even greater job -- which is hard to do. It's not like these are the Phoenix Suns we're playing. We're playing the San Antonio Freaking Spurs.