It's a new day and the shameful loss to the injury Indiana Pacers is in the rear view mirror. Or at least I hope. The Utah Jazz looked like there was a little hangover after beating the Cleveland Cavaliers. Hopefully the loss to a worse team will motivate them to show up tonight in the Philips Arena against the Eastern Conference playoff team, and our favorite East team, the Atlanta Hawks.
Sure, for years they sequestered Dominique Wilkins, whom we should have kept . . . and now they are harboring Jazz-exiles Paul Millsap, Kyle Korver, and DeMarre Carroll. But we like those guys, so there's no hard feelings. If anything, they make watching the Hawks fun and rewarding for Jazz fans.
We're not going to see DeMarre tonight as he has a groin injury. As our SB Nation brothers Peachtree Hoops report:
Carroll was listed as doubtful on Tuesday with a groin strain. Thabo Sefolosha is expected to move into the starting lineup. Scott was listed initially listed as questionable with a lower back contusion but it appears that the club will play it on the safe side.
With Sefolosha starting there will be minutes to be had by either Kent Bazemore or maybe Shelvin Mack in the Hawks rotation. Mack has saw his playing time dwindle as Dennis Schroder has stepped in to the back up point guard position. Bazemore started out in the rotation but hasn't played in either of the last two game
Furthermore, FanSided bros over at Soaring Down South show the J.R. Smith hit on Carroll in all its' shocking detail:
It appears that the injury occurred when he and J.R. Smith were contesting for a rebound on a long miss from Paul Millsap with 3:40 left in the game. As Carroll closed in on Smith, who was getting set for the rebound, Smith turned and saw Carroll coming from his right side. At that point, Smith locked his right arm about Carroll's left. When Carroll tried to get off the ground for the rebound, he couldn't.
It seems as though Smith added a fair bit of body torque in the maneuver as well, as he flipped the 212-lb. Carroll to the ground rather forcefully.
So if you are a DeMarre fan you're not going to see him tonight, and you know why. Adding to the misery is that the Hawks will also be without Mike Scott tonight.
@slcdunk Mike doesn't play around when he comes into the game— Peachtree Hoops (@peachtreehoops) November 12, 2014
Of course the Jazz will also be without Rodney Hood for the third straight game; he is out with plantar fasciitis -- the same thing keeping fellow rookie Adreian Payne out of each game this season, but injuries may make him available tonight for the ATL. But injuries are a bummer. Let's move onto what these teams have done to get here so far this season!
Atlanta Hawks (3-3):
I don't know what to think of the Hawks so far this season. They lost to the Toronto Raptors, San Antonio Spurs, and the Charlotte Hornets (on the road in double overtime). Those are all excusable losses, and all of them have been as the road team. They beat the Indiana Pacers (a team we couldn't beat), and won a home and home series against the New York Knicks. The Jazz play the Knicks next, so we may have a better understanding of if that's an easy thing or a hard thing. But right now I am guarded. I don't think a 3-3 record is indicative of just how good this Hawks team can be at full strength. After all, they were a playoff team last year -- and the core is back for another year and the younger guys are smarter. Oh, and bigman Al Horford is back.
The result is that Mike Budenholzer's team is approaching beastmode. Or at least, stealth-beastmode. They have the 11th best defense in the league (103.6 Def RTG), and their pace (17th) masks how good they are -- but still they're holding teams under triple digits on average (pace inclusive, they are giving up 99.7 ppg). Their offense is in the top half of the league as well, scoring the 14th most ppg, and being the 15th most efficient (Off RTG). They will be a handful.
They get to the line and take (and make) good shots on offense. And on defense they are huge ball hawks being 10th in TOV%. If there is a weakness (and it's only a relative one at that), it's that they don't clear their defensive glass that well -- being only 26th in the league at it. They pull down 71.4% of their DREB, and that translates to only 30.3 DRB a game, which is 29th in actual value.
If the Jazz are going to take advantage it SHOULD be here, as they get 27% of their OREB by %, and that is good enough for 13th best in the league.
But everything comes with a price, while the Jazz "should" be able to get on the offensive glass, every bigman on the Hawks will be able to draw their man outside the paint because they all have solid jumpers. (Pero Antic seems like he was put together by a think tank on how to neutralize Rudy Gobert, in particular. We all known him as the Macedonian Carlos Boozer -- we being those of us crazy enough to watch Ukraine play international comps, so that's probably just Moni and I)
So no DMC or Scott -- which sucks for them because they average 20 ppg between them, and Scott is very efficient. When he's out there on the court he doesn't mess around, as you read above. Thabo Sefolosha will get the start, and he will be matched up against Gordon Hayward, so that will be fun. But outside of that you honestly have to say that their starters are better than ours.
From what we've seen this season I'm more worried about some random dude off the bench hurting us -- my money is in Kent Bazemore, and mainly because of his three point making ability. Bazegod was good enough to be someone DL was looking at in free agency this past off-season. If it's not him, well, Dennis Schroder is going to be there to do Dennis Schroder things. He is an aggressive point, so like the opposite mentality of Dante Exum.
Oh, and yeah, Pero Antic is going to take one of our guys to school tonight. He just hasn't decided who it's going to be yet.
Utah Jazz (3-5):
Okay, they should have beaten the Pacers, but then again, on paper they shouldn't have beaten the Cavaliers. This only goes to help establish that this team is wild. They will play better and worse than they should. And that makes sense because EACH player has such a large standard deviation in how they can play -- they are all youngsters.
Utah's defense is no better than last year, but the offense can look smooth. Gordon Hayward is a wrecking ball right now at the wing, and on any given night two of the four Jazz bigmen in the normal rotation (Derrick Favors, Enes Kanter, Trevor Booker, and Rudy Gobert) are going to have good nights. Rodney Hood's shooting will be missed, but that puts the pressure and responsibility on the rest of the guys. People like Alec Burks and Trey Burke need to make shots too -- they just can't wait for the bigs to get an offensive rebound, and let Gordon Hayward do something magical.
I do expect a bounce-back game for one of the two.
Hayward and Favors do the most, and make the most. You could almost say that they are, ahem, leading the team. That's good. It's been a long time coming but those 2010 draft guys need to lead this team on a consistent basis. We're seeing that from G-Time. But not Favors. Derrick isn't being used smartly enough. He was in the Phoenix Suns game (Jazz win), but in our losses he's being used like he was a player he isn't. The reason why Karl Malone scored so many points is that a) they gave him the ball (not a given for Derrick) and b) the guards got him the ball where he could score from, and most importantly, c) they got him the ball where if he did anything other than shoot it, it would have been the wrong play.
Trey Burke got into the NBA based upon his pick and roll skills. Dante Exum seems like a genius with his on-court decision making. Alec and Gordon know what to do in this situation too. It shouldn't be hard. After all, the WHOLE POINT OF AN OPEN OFFENSE is so that guards can penetrate and find bigmen in scoring position near the basket.
Oh well, Quin Snyder will figure it out. And hopefully the players will figure it out too. It's still very early.
Oh, and yes, Quin Snyder returns to Atlanta. He was an assistant coach there last season. So there's that storyline to follow too.
Personally, this is going to be a fun game to watch. Because. You know. There's a chance it can go to four overtimes.