WHAT. A. GAME. With the peaks and valleys, the Jazz come out on top of the Milwaukee Bucks 103-100. Bojan dropped 33 points tonight, shooting 47.4% from the field and an absolutely blistering 50% (5/10) from behind the arc—including a clutch buzzerbeater from three. The Croatian Cobra struck hard tonight, and proved his mettle as an integral part to this team.
Rational Reaction #1: When shots fall, the Jazz look like the best team in the league
The Jazz got off to a hot start tonight, getting out to an early lead with 30 points in the first quarter. By halftime, the lead was pushed to 55-35. The offense was clicking, the floor was spaced, and for one of the first times this season, the Jazz looked like a true contender. When the shot falls, our elite defense is set on the other end. Because of this effect, Giannis was held to only one shot in the first quarter.
Due to the hot start, the Jazz were able to maintain relative control for the rest of the game. We’ve seen this with the Warriors in past years. It takes a lot of energy to bring a game back from a large deficit. The Jazz will win a lot of games this season if they can come out of the game swinging like they did tonight.
Rational Reaction #2: When shots don’t fall, defense keeps the Jazz in punching distance
The second half was much more ugly for the Jazz. But even when we were unable to score, we didn’t let the game get away from us. The Jazz were able to maintain the lead, and control of the game, through their defense. There were lapses here and there, which will happen against another title-contender, but it was the elite defense that allowed the Jazz to be in a position to take the buzzerbeater that ultimately decided the game.
Overreaction #1: BUILD BOJAN A STATUE. STAT.
The Jazz have a fourth all-star caliber player, and his nickname should be Bojan the Beast. Ok, that’s a terrible nickname. But we can all agree that Bojan > Giannis Antetokounmpo, right? In my mind, I imagine Justin Zanick sitting in his office, thanking the stars that Nikolas Mirotic signed overseas this past offseason.
Last year, the Jazz offense was to run Donovan through a pick and roll into a triple team. The second option was to swing the ball around the arc until somebody not named Donovan Mitchell was wide open. Due to our lack of shooters, poor shooters were dared to shoot, and boy did they shoot a lot.
Now, the Jazz have multiple offensive weapons, and snipers who hit difficult shots. They may need some time to come together as a unit, but tonight I think we saw some of that.
Overreaction #2: Rudy Gobert made Giannis Antetokounmpo his child
One matchup that always seems to plague Rudy Gobert is that against “Greek Freak” Giannis Antetokounmpo. Giannis always seems to be able to power through the Jazz defense and get whatever he wants. As an extremely long and strong player, he gets what he wants against just about any team in this league. Don’t get me wrong, Giannis still got 30 points tonight. However, he also fouled out with an incredibly important minute of crunch time left on the clock.
We also got this gem:
Rudy for DPOY #3.
Underreaction: It’s hard to say quite yet, but the Jazz might be better than they were last year
It is easy to point at turnovers, and the awkward offense that randomly stops working at times, and say that we miss players from last year. Last year has been romanticized, as it was one of the most entertaining Utah Jazz seasons of all time. The team chemistry was incredible, the personalities were interesting and fun to follow, and the players were extraordinarily lovable.
While we should cherish those memories, let us not forget that we lost two years in a row to Houston in the playoffs due to our lack of offensive options. Coming into this season, we were worried about our defense. It looks like the best defense is still one that is anchored by Rudy Gobert, and our offense is nearly guaranteed to only improve from here on out. Should we worry about chemistry? A Gatorade cooler of water being dumped over known introvert Bojan Bogdanovic says no.
Quin Snyder is a master of maximizing talent, and he is now just scratching the surface of what this group can accomplish.