The Utah Jazz dropped their 4th game in the last 8 days tonight, falling 111-105 to the Miami Heat at home. Don’t let the relatively close score fool you, the Jazz were getting blown out for a good chunk of the game and didn’t whittle Miami’s lead down until it was too late to matter anyway. The Heat didn’t even have their best player in the lineup tonight, as Jimmy Butler sat with injury, which made the loss all the more painful. Utah just has not been playing good basketball for quite awhile now, and if things continue like this for much longer changes will likely need to be made.
Tonight’s game also continued an extremely frustrating trend for the Jazz, as they had yet another game where they struggled to shoot the ball well from the perimeter. For a team that statistically had arguably the greatest 3-point shooting season of all time last year, it’s been very weird to see Utah struggle as much as they have from distance this season. The Jazz have now shot above 35% from 3pt range in just 3 out of 13 games this year, which obviously is an issue for a team that relies on perimeter shooting as heavily as they do. You have to figure that the poor shooting will even itself out over the course of the season, but that hope dwindles down each game that passes.
It would be wrong to blame the loss tonight solely on a poor shooting performance however, as the Heat simply outplayed and outworked the Jazz in just about every aspect. Miami especially dominated Utah in the paint, where they out rebounded the Jazz 54-48, and outscored them 50-36. Utah’s forward rotation was the main culprit for these struggles, making ineffective backline rotations and failing to box out PJ Tucker all night long.
Can we talk about P.J. for a second? Hard to ignore his hustle.— Miami HEAT (@MiamiHEAT) November 13, 2021
He has 5 offensive rebounds at the half, more than the other team combined. #HEATCulture
The one bright note from tonight’s game was the play of Jordan Clarkson, who finished with 25 points on 8-17 shooting from the field. As one of a few different players on Utah’s roster that has struggled to play up to expectations this year, it was nice to see Clarkson have a really good game. There’s always going to be ups and downs with JC, but if he can start playing like this more often it would at least solve one of Utah’s problems.
Overall the Jazz have a lot of things they need to fix, and all of those issues culminated in tonight’s loss. Their forwards lack defensive versatility and rebounding, their shooters aren’t hitting their shots, and the perimeter defense is still questionable. The eventual return of Rudy Gay should help alleviate SOME of Utah’s issues (particularly the lack of interior defense and rebounding from the forward spot), but it would be foolish to bet too much on a 35 year old coming off of offseason foot surgery. Regardless of how they do it, if the Jazz can’t internally figure out solutions to their current problems they might be forced to make some roster changes in the coming months.