The Burks/Clark/Hayward/Harris/Kanter Press

Anyone excoriating Corbin for the decision to close the Boston game with this unorthodox lineup, I suggest you take a second look at what happened. That's exactly what I did.

When Favors left the game at the 9:47 mark and didn't return, I was really angry. Then I watched the effect of the unorthodox lineup of Burks, Clark, Hayward, Harris, and Kanter and admitted I was wrong.

Favors started the 4th like a beast: a dunk and a layup with one offensive and one defensive rebound in a minute and a half. But then he committed a shooting foul, immediately traveled on the offensive end, and committed another foul 26 seconds after the last. He was frustrated with the calls all night, and it was showing in his game. When he sat down, Kanter offered his hand for a quick five; Favors stormed by him to the bench without response.

I don't really mind Favors' frustration. I'm glad he's competitive and isn't okay performing the way he did most of that game offensively. But at the same time, it's clear his head wasn't right. He'd already played 34 minutes, and there's no question he needed a rest at the very least. Also, this team needs to be very careful about letting frustration affect their play because of their youth and because there will be a lot of frustration this season. So subbing him out makes sense.

At this point, Corbin may have done the most creative thing I've ever seen from him. He used that unorthodox lineup with Clark and Harris to press, not to create turnovers, but to slow the pace of the game, which to that point had been dictated by Boston. And it worked.

When Favors went out at 9:47 in the fourth quarter, Boston had scored 87 points. That's well over 2 points per minute of play. If they'd continued that pace, they would have scored in the 107-110 range for the game. However, in the final 9:47, much of it against the slow down press, Boston scored 10 points. That's a point per minute. The Jazz effectively cut Boston's scoring rate in half after Favors left.

As for the offensive end, the Jazz scored 19 points in the final ten minutes of play. Not only is that outscoring Boston by 9 down the stretch, but they shot 9 of 19 (47%), and that includes Clark missing three shots in the last minute. Before that stretch (in the time where the decision was in any doubt), they shot 9 of 16 (56%).

Did Boston get tight in the fourth? Yes, and that certainly contributed to the run the Jazz made. But there is no debating that the Burks/Clark/Hayward/Harris/Kanter lineup that pressed worked. It's clear from the scoreboard.

No Lucas, or Tinsley, or Jefferson, the veterans some argue Corbin plays regardless of situation. No, he played Burks, Hayward, Kanter, a rookie, and a guy with fewer than 300 NBA minutes prior to this season. Where is the veteran bias here?

That press, even just to slow the pace, required a mobile power forward with the energy and mentality to go all out full court on defense. Who else qualifies but Harris? Jefferson maybe, but his defense is softer than that of Harris. I thought maybe Hayward at the 4, an idea I like in the right spot, but not against Brandon Bass.

With a healthy roster, we almost certainly see Brandon Rush and Marvin Williams in place of Clark and Harris. But without those options, Corbin used the pieces he had to create the desired effect of slowing down the game. That was a good move that worked, and deserves all the more praise because it demonstrated Corbin breaking out of two of his weaknesses as a coach: over reliance on veteran players and lack of creativity and ability to adapt, particularly in-game.

One can condemn Corbin's decision on philosophical grounds, such as Favors is better than Harris, thus in every important situation Favors should play and Harris should not. That is a gross oversimplification and false enthymeme; more, it fails to take into account the results of the fourth quarter last night.

I have criticisms of Corbin's coaching, this season and last night in particular. Anyone who wants to hear some as my badge of worthiness to express my opinion here (as hatred of Tyrone Corbin is apparently a prerequisite to belonging to this community), fine: Alec Burks should be playing more; Clark should be getting more of a look; the defense is simplistic to the point of minimizing Favors' influence as an off the ball shot contestor; the offensive scheme is too often getting an open shot but not a good shot given the player in question; the pace offensively needs to accelerate or the team will continue to struggle to score; the perimeter players aren't being coached to enter the ball when Favors has deep position in the post; the team hasn't figured how to effectively attack when teams hedge on the pick and roll on the wings, where Hayward is most effective running that play; Kanter isn't being held accountable for defensive rebounding; screens aren't being set well or used well with consistency... Is that enough, or am I still too blindly adoring of Corbin?

Why don't I always say these things? Because other people do, quite frequently, actually, when they bother to restrain themselves from bald name calling and derision and actually critique the performance of the Jazz's head coach. This site doesn't need more Ty hate. It has sufficient. But if everyone is denouncing a decision like that of the unorthodox lineup last night, then there really should be a voice to point out how much evidence such vitriol ignores.

If you don't want to hear that, no worries. There are few enough such voices here to ignore or, if you prefer, shout down without consideration.

All comments are the opinion of the commenter and not necessarily that of SLC Dunk or SB Nation.

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