So much of the daily NBA grind is focused upon the "next" game, but I think part of what I need to do more of is look at what happened in the games that just happened. I look at all the end of season stuff, and self-flagellate by watching the losses three times each. But sometimes it's important to look at the game in a more than just Utah Jazz -centric point of view. After all, each game is between two teams. We do some things right and wrong, and so do they. So to find out more about the Jazz 83-80 victory over the Cats (recap) we talk to Ben Swanson (@CardboardGerald) about what was abnormal about this game. (Game Page: Bobcats vs Jazz coverage )
1. What happened for the Bobcats that was out of the ordinary?
Ben: Holy crap, each starter hit at least one three-pointer. Charlotte is 29th in three-point percentage and they hit half of their shots from beyond the arc. And still lost. Simply majestic.
2. What happened that was normal for this season?
Ben: Al Jefferson wasn't great. I mean, he was still one of, if not the best, option on offense for Charlotte's decrepit offense, but his shooting percentage has dropped off from his recent years. The other thing is how much injuries have hurt them. They lost Jeff Taylor for the season with a ruptured Achilles, and that really hurts their wing defense and offense.
3. What worked / what did not work?
What worked: not much. What didn't work: Where do I start?
4. Were injuries a factor in your opinion? (You can be a homer here if you want)
Ben: Injuries definitely were a factor. The Bobcats were without Michael Kidd-Gilchrist and Jeff Taylor, two of their best defenders. To say they would not have been a factor is pretty silly.
5. All things considered, is this game a good representative sample of your team this season? Or is your team better or worse than they actually played like last game?
Ben: It's a good representation of how they're playing currently, which is to say lacking in focus. They had an abnormally good three-point shooting performance but didn't get to the rim well against Utah's bigs. The defense was okay, but the team as a unit lacked focus and execution. On the whole, this is not a good representation of the team this season, however. But every game is different because of so many variables in opponent rosters and whatnot. So I mean in a qualitative generalization of their play, it's a good sample of their current play and of their games against Utah, but not on the entire season including other opponents.
Thanks again to Ben for doing this under such short notice, and if you reads like this, we can make this a normative process for the rest of the season. You can follow (and should) Ben on twitter @CardboardGerald, and visit him frequently at Rufus on Fire.
Now if I was answering these questions the first thing would be to address the fact that Richard Jefferson played 40:09 minutes in this game, which is highly ordinary for the Jazz. Well, maybe not highly, because he's gone for 40+ minutes in a Jazz uniform a total of three times this season so far. Really. That's not a lie (vs San Antonio Spurs Nov 15th; @ New Orleans Pelicans Nov 20th; and the Bobcats game). The other really abnormal thing is that the Jazz got only 18 points from their bench in this game, 2 players total scored from the second unit. Of course, only one player from the bench played more than 14 minutes in that game -- but when Richard is playing 40+ that's just something that has to give.
The other major deviation here is that the Jazz too 21 three point attempts in that game, the team takes 18 usually. Is three extra threes a big deal? Maybe not, but but it becomes one when you adjust for pace in this game and the fact that the team only took 80 shots, while they average . . . hold on . . . uh-huh, carry the one . . . the Jazz usually average 82 shots a game. Wait really? Okay, then I guess this wasn't a major deviation at all. Aside from little bench scoring, and Richard Jefferson playing 40+ minutes, things were pretty much normal for this Jazz squad. Marvin rebounded and hit a three. Trey Burke didn't dime much, but held onto the ball very well. If anything, Favors had a sub-par game because he didn't get a double double and while he had 3 blocks, he had 6 turn overs.
That's really it.
I felt like what was working that night happened to be the team was making better screens, and Kemba Walker isn't a great defender. That kind of explains why Trey Burke went unmolested for the dagger layup in the end, on his way to 21 points, 5 assists, 3 rebounds, and 1 steal. The collective defense on Al Jefferson also worked, as he was harried into an 8/23 shooting night, where he only got to the line for 2 FTA. What did not work was the collective shooting of Gordon Hayward (3/10), Richard Jefferson (3/10), and Enes Kanter (2/8). These guys all should be better than that.
Utah was healthy, so injuries weren't a problem on our side, but I will say that not having Kidd-Gilchrist in uniform made our life that much easier. The team had their hands full with Gerald Henderson. MK-G would have made life very bad. This was a slim margin of victory. If Jeff T was in action as well he would have made a difference, but I don't see how much worse our team could have shot.
Ultimately I don't think this game is representative of how well the team is capable of playing, nor is the win itself representative of how good this team, as constructed, actually is. We can play better, and we really got lucky with injuries and a passive Big Al in order to pull off a slim victory. But that's what I think. What do YOU think?