NBA Regular Season Game #20:
Indiana Pacers (16-2) @ Utah Jazz (4-15)
Can G-Time evolve into Miller Time, and beat the Pacers?
Today has been a content rich day here at SLC DUNK, the world's premier Utah Jazz website, so this is coming up a bit later in the day. Anyway, tonight the Jazz take on the best team in the NBA, the Pacers. They are the best not just by record, but by a number of other metrics out there. I care about defense, and the Pacers put the D in Indiana. They have the best defense in the league giving up ony 87.6 ppg, and have the best defensive rating as well, giving up only 93.5 points per possession. (So their defense is not purely a product of slow pace, it's not a mirage.) They are the best at making other teams take poor shots, they are in the top 10 in three of the four defensive factors as well, as a team that causes a lot of turn overs and as a team that doesn't set the other team to the line a lot. The one factor out of the four that they are not Top 10 in happens to be defensive rebounding percentage -- and they are ranked at #12 there. If you like the simple stats teams only make 39.5 fg% against them. If they are vulnerable anywhere on defense it's on the other team making their free throws (they are ranked #28 out of 30 there). Of course, that is of little solace when a) they rarely send teams to the line, and b) more importantly, we're one of the worst free throw making teams in the league.
The big matchup that's being forced as a narrative is going to have to be Paul George against Gordon Hayward. Historically their numbers have been similar, but right now George is just in a different class. His 25 ppg, 6 rpg, 3 apg, 2 stl averages are better looking (c'mon, shooting 41.2 3pt%) than Gordon's 17 ppg, 6 rpg, 5 apg, 1 spg. Gordo is shooting under 30% from downtown. They are both great young talents, but I think the big matchup that we need to really talk about is Frank Vogel against Tyrone Corbin. They both started coaching as mid-season replacements during the same season -- practically the same week. So whatever excuses we've heard about Corbin coming in midseason, then having a lockout, a short training camp, no time for practice in a 66 game season . . . all that Jazz . . . all of that also applies to Vogel. Removing playoff games Ty has coached 195 games. Frank has coached 203. So where' the spin for that? Vogel spent the last two seasons without his former All-Star / Olympian Danny Granger while Ty had Al Jefferson healthy for the last three. Part of it is the team you are handed, but another part of it is actually being competent at your job. Vogel's win now % looks a lot better than Ty's. Maybe Ty is better at development though, so let's see how well Gordon and Alec Burks handle George and Lance Stephenson tonight.
The Pacers are still going to be without Danny Granger. The Jazz are going to be without Marvin Williams, and as far as I know, Jeremy Evans is questionable. So this is going to be the trial by fire for Gordon on an Evolved Paul George -- unless of course, Richard Jefferson has a time machine game. Going into the time machine the Jazz are 39-37 all-time against Indy, and are winning the fight at home with a 26 and 12 record in our gym. Tonight is going to be something different as it pits one of the best teams against one of the worst teams.
Mychal and I recorded a bit of audio pregame, and we're going to record a bit of audio post game -- and tell you all how we feel.
The Jazz are playing a little better right now, but things always look better when your last four games had you facing off a team that overlooked you and were down two starters (Houston Rockets), had a team that is on a long road trip and just lost their star player (Chicago Bulls), and inbetween those faced the Phoenix Suns twice. Things are going to be tougher tonight, heck, the Pacers may just lap us.