The Utah Jazz tied up the NBA Playoffs series against the Los Angeles Clippers 2-2 last night with a 105-98 win at home. A huge factor that somewhat normalizes both what the Jazz do on offense and defense was the return of possible DPOY / All-NBA center Rudy Gobert. Gobert sets screens that frees up his ball handlers. He cuts to the basket and finishes above the rim. He gets offensive rebounds and second chance points. He hits his free throws. Dude can even drive and hit finger roll layups while going away from the basket. I didn’t even mention ANYTHING he does on defense, and that’s his calling card.
He is, in the most simplest of terms, a “Game Changer.” Or at least, he is unless you ask former Coach of the Year, former coach who added a ring by motivating first ballot HOFers like Kevin Garnett, Paul Pierce, Ray Allen, and Rajon Rondo to beat teams up. Doc Rivers isn’t crazy. But his post-game comments this off-season lead one to believe he could be. After a Game 1 loss, at home, he went off on a reporter asking about his team’s clock management at the end of the game. After the Game 4 loss, on the road, he had this to say:
Fast forward to the 2 minute mark to hear genius at work.
Reporter: Coach, I asked you before the game how Gobert’s presence would effect the game plan; did it end up effecting them more than you thought, or did you just go out an execute the game plan you had?
Rivers: No, and as I said before the game - and I’ll say it again - he doesn’t effect what we do. You know? We played the same. I thought Favors had more of an impact on the game, to be honest, tonight. Again, both of those are offense. Defensively, we do what we do. You know? We don’t worry about it. You know? You can go back and look at the games that Gobert played in the regular season. I think we were still scoring 115. So it’s more on the other end that I thought their bigs had an impact. And, you know, but, like, Favors had a big game tonight. And unfortunately, it was still our guards that have to do a better job because I thought DJ had to rotate so much off the bigs that it allowed their bigs easy access to the basket. So we have to do a better job of keeping the ball in front of us.
Doc Rivers, 2017
Okay. Let’s start unpacking from our trip that we took away from reality. The Clippers have not scored 115 on the Jazz this season even once, let alone averaged that against a Rudy Gobert Jazz squad. They have scored 88 points, 88 points, 108 points, and 108 points in three wins and one regular season loss. That’s a team that averages only 98.0 ppg against the Jazz. Maybe I miss heard Doc here, because his team averages only 108.7 ppg this season, and has an ORTG of 112.7. There’s no 115 anywhere.
The only number close to that 115 that Doc mentions in relation to UTA and LAC this season is . . . the Jazz scoring 114 on LAC back on Mach 13th.
In the Playoffs the Clippers have scored 95, 99, 111, and 98 points. That’s an average of 100.8 ppg. That’s a step up from what Utah’s held them down to, but only one of those games had Rudy play more than 10 seconds in it. For what it is worth, the hot-ass offensive studs in LA managed to break 100 points against Utah just three times in the last eight games. All together they have scored 111, 108 and 108 and a whole lot of double digits. I’m very frightened.
Speaking of frightened, let’s go back to Doc Rivers.
To suggest that Gobert does not effect what you do, or change the game plan is either:
- A flat out lie, because who does not try to game plan for a DPOY candidate who could be All-NBA
- A display of ignorance on Doc’s part
- An admission that his game plans are pretty inflexible and do not incorporate any new information and they don’t adjust as a team
- A revealing look into the mind of a guy who usually gets fired right after the Jazz humiliate him (check out Orlando Magic version of Doc Rivers for more info, kids!)
- A somewhat admirable, but silly, attempt at bolstering his troops - false bravado can be a dangerous thing
Worst still, what this does is give Rudy Gobert some newspaper clippings to cut out to help motivate him. Gobert is kind of nuts. Nuts in a focused way that drives him. (Kobe Bryant style nuts, not Bison Dele style nuts.) He doesn’t need more motivation. Sometimes when you give him a compliment he’ll take it as a slight. He keeps a list of nay-sayers and wants to destroy all of them. His social media favourites is a great place to start if you wanted more info on this.
Motivating Rudy Gobert only hurts your team more than whatever psychology you are playing to make them feel less defeated. LAC had their shot when Rudy was out for three games. He’s back. And right now you, Glenn Rivers, are hurting your team by saying this mess.
If Rudy Gobert, to this point in time, had not in any way effected what the Los Angles Clippers do on the court then he sure as hell will be for the next three games. Congrats Doc. You went full something-something.
Prepare to leave the NBA Playoffs empty-handed. Ask Sean Penn back in 2001.