Here we go again.
I would love to say this was a shocking development, but it’s not. This is who the Jazz are. From top to bottom it’s an absolute disaster.
Which wound do we want to rub salt in first? Let’s start with Jalen Brunson going off for 41 points, 8 rebounds, and 5 assists while shooting 60% from the field and 60% for three....
I’m sorry, I had to take a second to let the pain of writing that sentence wash over me.
Okay, I’m back.
This, among many other things, is not a fluke, it’s just who the Jazz are. The Jazz’s perimeter defense was nonexistent again tonight and the Dallas Mavericks, like literally every other team in the NBA, took advantage. Brunson had his way with O’Neale, Mitchell, and Conley all night and it was no different at the end of the game. Like clockwork, there was no resistance at the perimeter and the Jazz got caught not rotating against a 5-out offense leaving people open all night to the tune of 17 uncontested 3s.
Per @ESPNStatsInfo, the Mavs made 17 uncontested 3s in win over Jazz, the most by any team in last 10 postseasons. That includes seven of Maxi Kleber’s eight 3s.— Tim MacMahon (@espn_macmahon) April 19, 2022
And that brings us to our next metaphorical stubbing of the toe that is rooting for this Jazz team, the Jazz haven’t learned how to guard a spread offense the last 3 years. Here’s a great group of threads from Tom Haberstroh that shows the same things over and over and over. I’m sharing all of them so those who missed the game can absorb this pain like everyone who watched it live.
It was so easy for the Mavericks, too. This is completely replicable. Maxi Kleber shot 8/11 from three, and that’s because they were practice threes.
If this was one game, you could understand it. It’s a strategy that a smart coach, like Tye Lue, could figure out and then you adjust. The problem is this happened 4 times in a row with the Clippers and then it happened all season and the Jazz still haven’t figured out how to stop it. It comes down to three things that are wrong with this team, roster, coaching, and the front office. First, the roster, it’s essentially the same. Sure, Joe Ingles got injured and traded but that allowed the Jazz to discover the benefits of playing a good perimeter defender in Danuel House. The Jazz also allegedly upgraded by exchanging Georges Niang for Rudy Gay. Even with those changes, It’s the same starters doing the same things.
And that’s the second point. What is the coach doing to fix this? If the scheme works then it must be a roster issue, right? Well, if it’s a roster issue then shouldn’t the coach make an adjustment to improve? Danny Ainge did manage to bring in some better length and athleticism for the perimeter (Danuel House was a +17 to finish and Juancho Hernangomez was a +14 but who cares, right?) Instead, Quin Snyder chooses to do the same thing over and over. How has this not gotten better?
Finally, if the Jazz knew what their deficiencies were with the roster, why didn’t they change them? This offseason the Jazz’s big acquisition to help with the perimeter defense was Rudy Gay, who hasn’t played a minute in this series. It was a complete flop of a move. Not as bad as trading a 1st to move Derrick Favors’ contract that no one was competing for, but it was bad. We should have all been worried when the thing that would put this team over the top was signing a 36 year-old coming off of foot surgery.
Among the many horror stories of this season, one of the worst was the font the Jazz marketing team was using at the start of the season. It was as hard to read as the Jazz’s coaching decisions are to understand. But Jazz fans were told to be excited about the Rudy Gay move. Well, here we are and he’s not playing and the Jazz can’t beat a Luka-less Mavericks team.
Ryan Smith: "We have a super passionate fan base, which I love, I love. I mean, people are talking about the font we're using in preseason, for heaven's sake. Like, that's incredible. I wish more people were talking about picking up Rudy Gay."— Andy Larsen (@andyblarsen) October 13, 2021
But we shouldn’t be surprised. Instead of being forward-thinking and making big moves to fill the gaps of this team, the Jazz did what they always do and hunkered down, owned by their self perpetuating fears. They will have made way too few moves, way too late and now they likely don’t have the time to put a championship caliber roster around Donovan Mitchell.
The good news? The Jazz brought in Danny Ainge and he has been known to be willing to make a few big moves before. If the Jazz can’t figure this thing out quickly, get ready for an offseason to remember.