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The Downbeat #1776 - The Utah Jazz are Good

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Jeff Swinger-USA TODAY Sports

Discuss these two statements:

The Jazz can win against any team in the league.

The Jazz can lose to any team in the league.

These two statements can almost be said, across the NBA (with the exception of the Warriors, who evidently have employed a powerful warlock). Look back across the games the Jazz have played, and there's really just the one loss (Blazers) that they haven't been in the game, i.e. had a chance to win. The numbers back it up- the Jazz have a Margin of Victory of 3.73, but the crazy part is that is good for 8th best in the NBA.

Right now the Jazz have the 5th best defense, based on DRTG (per Basketball-Reference.com). They have slipped a little bit, but if you look deeper, that is actually astounding. DRTG is based on points allowed, per 100 possessions. The Jazz, as we all know, don't allow anywhere near that many per game, because they play slow as hell. But, this is where it gets interesting -- they Jazz have managed this while allowing the most free throws per game, almost 3 FTs for every 10 FGA. In contrast, the league's best defense (Spurs) only allow 1.5 FTA per 10 FGA.

In summation: The Jazz are (according to the refs anyway) hacking the sh** out of people, and if they could not do that, their defense would probably be record breaking good. Also, Rudy can't miss games.

Remember this from last night:

Bolerjack got a little too excited about it (this vine is from the Raptors feed), but there is something endearing about these kinds of things. In the age of advanced stats, player tracking, and all the technologies, moments like this are a throwback to the schoolyard or driveway. You'd think the NBA would have one of those giant claws, like in those waste of money stuffed animal machines, or something. But no. The tallest, closest player has to grab a broom and poke the ball out with the handle. It's awesome.

Rudy Gobert, ladies and gentlemen:

This one, I do not get, but apparently it's a sick burn:

Usually when these things pop off, I roll my eyes because the opposing player wiped away with their off-hand, or put a forearm on the defender to spring higher. In this case... nope. Rudy got caught too far under the basket and Derozan just jumped so damn high.

ICYMI from Zach Lowe's first article back with ESPN:

4. Rodney Hood, waiting and baiting

Hood is straight-up cruel toying with help defenders who sag in against the pick-and-roll. He keeps his dribble alive as he glances back and forth between two potential targets: his big man rolling to the rim and the shooter on the weak side. Once he tricks that poor help defender into committing to one of those targets, Hood rifles a pass to the other.

If Hood's 3-point shooting recovers, he looks like the perfect do-it-all playmaking wing. The Jazz are smoking teams when they ditch both of their point guards and play Alec BurksGordon Hayward and Hood. That could present at least a minor organizational dilemma next season, when Dante Exum returns from an ACL tear.

You could see Rodney in action, heavily, in the first quarter last night. He also did this exact thing in the 4th quarter and netted Hayward a wide open look from the corner. Brilliant stuff.