The Utah Jazz beat the Los Angeles Clippers 97-95 on an Iso-Joe game winner. There were a lot of story-lines here. One of them that pops out to me was how both Doc Rivers and Quin Snyder were forced into using line-ups that didn’t ever exist in the 82 previous games for both teams. Of course, LAC has a super line-up that’s very comfortable and cohesive together. And yes, UTA has had a tonne (metric, y’all) of injures this year and no one knows who each other is still.
I broke down the last 7:52 of the game (when Chris Paul was subbed in and didn’t sub out) and things were bonkers.
Over the last 472 seconds of play the Jazz scored 15 points and the Clippers dropped 16. A three point lead became a two point final margin. Doc Rivers changed line-ups six times, and Quin Snyder only four times. Within the seven sections above both teams played one line-up twice. The critical component here is how well the line-ups matched up against one another vs. how much experience the two teams had in the regular season.
For example, the first groups played from 7:52 to to 7:10 of the fourth quarter. In those 42 seconds the Jazz outscored the Clippers by the score of 2-0. Both of these five-man line-ups had NEVER played with one another this season. Chris Paul, Raymond Felton, Jamal Crawford, Marreese Speights, and DeAndre Jordan had zero minutes together. During the season Austin Rivers would have gotten Felton or Paul’s minutes. George Hill, Rodney Hood, Gordon Hayward, Joe Johnson, and Derrick Favors hadn’t either. Rudy Gobert was the guy in the middle for most of the season, and Favors was playing more and more center with bench guys like Boris Diaw or a bench point guard. This little slice of time worked out in the Jazz’ favor, but it was just two points scored by two teams that had not played with one another.
For the most part the Jazz held their own. The most used line-up in the last 7+ minutes was George Hill, Joe Ingles, Gordon Hayward, Joe Johnson, and Derrick Favors played 430 seconds, that’s 7:10 of the last 7:52. During the regular season these five guys played together for only 10 minutes over 6 games according to the data from NBA.com.
They nearly played more time together at the END of this game than they did all season long. And outside of just the last 7:52 of this game they played 12 minutes total in this game. Which is more than their season total. For the record, back to the time frame of the end of the game, this team was out scored 13-15. But they played against a line-up that had played 15 minutes together (5 seconds) 17 minutes together (162 seconds), 63 minutes together (200 seconds), 163 minutes together (18 seconds), and their death line-up that’s played 871 minutes together (45 seconds).
Our “never seen before” line-up faced their better line-ups (Chris Paul x5, DeAndre Jordan x5, Blake Griffin x5, Luc Richard Mbah a Moute x3, Jamal Crawford x3, J.J. Redick x2, and Raymond Felton x2) and honestly, they didn’t get blown away. Sure, the Clippers were really hurting because they didn’t have Austin Rivers. But, yeah, the Jazz didn’t have Rudy Gobert, remember?
The next most used line-up for Utah was replacing Ingles for Rodney Hood — and that line-up outscored the Clippers 2-0 in those 42 seconds we mentioned before. The third, and last, line-up Snyder used was for the second of two FTA with the clocked stopped. That had Jeff Withey in the game to potentially get the rebound off of a Blake Griffin miss. He didn’t though.
For LA they were shuffling around guys, but it was mostly their best guys. In the six distinct line-ups they had Chris Paul played in all six of them. So did DeAndre Jordan. Blake Griffin played in five of the six, missing just 42 seconds of this stretch. The remaining spots were shuttled around between J.J. Redick, Jamal Crawford, LRMaM, and Felton.
To finish this game the Jazz used three different line-ups over the last 7:52 of the game. The total time these line-ups played together in the regular season was just 10 minutes (10 + 0 + 0).
The Clippers? They used six different line-ups to finish this game, and in the regular season they had played in 1129 minutes (871 + 163 + 63 + 17 + 15 +0).
We knew they had the advantage in playing together. I didn’t know it was this big. It’s no surprise then that they went on a run to tie the game. They are good, and they do work well together. They went on a 12-7 run with their starters (and/or replacing Redick with Crawford). That was expected.
What the Jazz did was not. And that made Utah harder to deal with. I am certain that the last two days were filled with scouting the unscoutable. Tonight’s game is going to be that much harder.