In a game the Utah Jazz couldn’t afford to lose, the Cleveland Cavaliers gave the Jazz a scare in the first half when they built a 9-point lead in the first quarter. Much of that was the result of the Jazz not able to hit shots. Some of it was Rodney Hood and Alec Burks having inside knowledge of how to get points against their old team.
Joe Ingles, who is in the midst of a slump by his standards, started off missing his first three 3-point attempts. Ricky Rubio also started off by missing his first three shots.
*Captain Obvious flies in* It may sound overly simple but it’s difficult to win games when multiple perimeter players on your starting unit are missing everything. Luckily, later in the game, Ingles and Rubio made big shots that helped the Jazz build a nice lead in the second half.
The silver lining to an ugly first quarter was the play of Donovan Mitchell. Mitchell, who ended with 18 points (7/12 from the field and 3⁄4 from three), 3 rebounds and 5 assists should have had more assists in that first quarter if it weren’t for multiple misses by teammates.
Right now, Mitchell is receiving a lot of attention for his inefficient shooting. But is it warranted? In the first quarter Mitchell made the right read every single play without a single “bad” shot. The reward? A 9-point deficit.
Jazz fans should be applauding Donovan Mitchell for this!
It probably went against all of Mitchell’s instincts to not take more shots. After all, is a bad shot by Mitchell any worse than a good shot by a bad shooter?
Right now, yes. In the future, we’ll see.
Either way, Mitchell’s efficiency tonight is not surprising. Instead of taking shots at the rim that most likely get blocked, or an impatient three at the beginning of the shot clock, he found the open shooter. His 5 assists are a testament to that. In some ways, this may be the game that Mitchell looks back and says, that’s how I need to play.
The exciting part? Mitchell only took two free throws. There’s a lot of room for growth! What happens when he’s taking 8-10 free throws a game? He’ll get there, and it’s going to be exciting.
Rudy Gobert is a superstar. If you go look at when teams make runs on the Jazz it almost always coincides to when Rudy Gobert is on the bench.
That’s the sign of a superstar.
Gobert’s ability to defend the rim and affect every aspect of the opposing offense is unmatched by anyone in the league.
Before the game Rodney Hood stated that Rudy Gobert is the best rim protector in the league and he’s not wrong. He is absolutely dominant.
But he’s so much more than just a defensive player.
Rudy Gobert is a pick and roll monster. His picks open up canyon-sized lanes to the basket that make players like Joe Ingles look like all stars. Not only does he set those earth-shattering picks but his rolls to the rim open up space for the PnR ball handler to make multiple decisions. Dante Exum and Donovan Mitchell both had incredible space to either take a shot at the rim, lob it to Rudy Gobert or pass to an open corner shooter. Gobert is as much of an offensive force as he is defensively and should be a perennial all star every year.
All in all it was a nice victory for the Jazz who showed toughness to fight through some rough shooting in the first half.
Tomorrow is a tougher matchup against a stout Detroit Pistons team ready to make life difficult for the Jazz.