The NBA Playoffs started yesterday, and that means the best players have the shine brightest. And last night we saw some crazy stuff out there in Game 1 of Utah Jazz vs. Los Angeles Clippers. Here’s my subjective list of the top plays from Game 1.
10 - Rudy Gobert goes down after seconds
Not going to show you at his worst right now. But our dude is a gamer. Utah would have to medically bar him from playing to get him out of this series. I have a feeling we’ll see him back sooner than expected. Still, this was a huge moment for this team in this game.
9 - Boris Diaw in-bounds subterfuge
It’s the first play of this reel, don’t watch all of it otherwise you’ll see some spoilers
This is San Antonio Spurs level Bobo. He’s so smart and so effective.
8 - Rodney Hood’s good look to Derrick Favors
Rodney Hood shot only 2/7 in this game. But he’s a good enough shooter to be someone the defense is worried about. He’s also smart enough to know when he’s not shooting well. This is a perfect mid-4th quarter drive, draw, and pass to Derrick Favors for the slam. If these are some of your bench guys, your team is deep.
7 - Boris Diaw’s Eel driving up-and-under, step-through lay-up
Somehow the Jazz were trading punches with a team that had owned them during the regular season. It was because of vets like Boris stepping up.
6 - Derrick Favors Offensive Rebound Slam
It’s the fourth quarter. There’s four minutes left in a close game. You’re on the road. You’re tired. But you don’t ever give up. This is why Favs is such a fan favorite.
5 - Joe Johnson block on Blake Griffin, assist to Gordon Hayward on the break
4 - Joe Ingles absolute destruction of J.J. Redick
This wasn’t just one play, or moment. It was the entire game. J.J. can make LAC’s Big Three into a Big Four. Joe single-handedly prevented that from happening:
- Q1 11:29 - Ingles blocks Redick 21 ft jumper
- Q1 11:26 - Ingles gets rebound and starts fast break
- Q1 9:03 - Redick out of bounds bad pass turn over
- Q1 7:33 - Redick bad pass, Ingles steals
- Q1 7:31 - Redick shooting fouls (Ingles draws foul and hits both free throws)
- Q2 5:07 - Redick traveling
- Q2 4:43 - Redick offensive foul (Ingles draw foul)
Redick’s frustration grew to swinging that elbow at Ingles, whom the LAC partial play-by-play guy called an ‘Agitator’ on the ESPN broadcast. Redick was out of rhythm and benched in this game because of Joe. J.J. finished with a -10 in +/-, and even though Joe just shot 2/7 himself, he had a huge impact on this game.
3 - Boris Diaw post conductor finds Joe Ingles for three, cross court, while drawing all of the defenders into the paint with his Basketball IQ Gravity
This happened early in the third quarter to break the tie. I don’t have a Tweet of it, so instead here’s another of Diaw’s team-high 6 assists:
2 - George Hill bank three
Clock running out in the 4th quarter, LAC needing a stop . . . but the ball doesn’t stop moving and really great vet basketball IQ turn a turnover into a 3PTA that goes in. This is precisely the type of play that LAC used to make against UTA during that 13 game losing streak to them when Chauncey Billups as on their squad.
1 a - Joe Johnson digs deep
Getting those 50/50 balls sometimes is all that it takes to win. And this play sets up the game winner. Really.
Joe is felling himself by now as he’s been successful in this game driving with his right hand going to the basket from the sideline, and scoring with one hand. He did it earlier in the game against Blake Griffin in traffic. And he just did it here again. He knows what’s up.
1 b - Joe Johnson Game-winner
Jazz's Joe Johnson daggers the Clippers at the buzzer to take Game 1 pic.twitter.com/MqORvxFHLE— Ben Golliver (@BenGolliver) April 16, 2017
There’s so much here. No time-out so they can’t put LRMaM back in the game. Hayward is the obvious guy to take the last shot (we see you Paul George) so Chris Paul is on him all the way on this play, and Gordon knows this so he moves out of the play - Chris even is physically laying hands on Gordon while Joe drives by him . . . and the key part of this was Joe Ingles iniating the pick / screen so that Iso-Joe is going one on one against the Clipper’s worst defender in Jamal Crawford. All of these things were communicated / understood without anyone talking or drawing anything up.
Having smart players is fun.
Beating the Clippers is like seven whole fun.
- Joe Ingles penetration and dishes, here’s one example
- Joe Johnson steal, and Gordon Hayward jump stop on the break
- Joe Johnson pulling the chair from Blake Griffin
PLAYOFF JOE JOHNSON PULLING CHAIRS OUT pic.twitter.com/RfR0AQbc81— Michael Gallagher (@MikeSGallagher) April 16, 2017
- Some of the other defensive plays / steals from the team (Jeff Withey ‘s BLOCK!) - I would have included for sure but the steals resulted in turn overs on the fast break that spoiled the moment. I guess this is what happens when you try to throw bounce passing around Chris Paul and/or don’t ever fast break as a team and have no practice.
One guy I didn’t mention a lot here is Gordon Hayward . . . because he deserves his own post on this site for what he did in this game. But here’s a tease:
There’s plenty of time between each game right now, so there’s enough time for me to actually write posts while also having family time and sleeping occasionally. So expect more!