Oh boy, this is going to be a short one. Unlike the Utah Jazz (1-2) @ San Antonio Spurs (4-0) game -- where I expect the Jazz to make it a long, slow game. Thanks to the refs, of course. But that’s just me being a homer fan. Anyway, what Five things are we going to be on the look out for tonight?
ONE: Three Pointers
The Utah Jazz are facing one of the most deadly three point shooting teams there are tonight. The Spurs are 38/84 this season, a great .452 from downtown. They take 21.0 threes a game, and they spread the wealth. Patrick Mills has taken the most (22), and he makes .591 of his threes. And eight different players have hoisted up between 15 and 4 threes so far this season for them. It’s not just guards hitting threes either. Kyle Anderson, Pau Gasol, and LaMarcus Aldridge are a combined 8 for 12 from outside this year. Seriously.
To contrast that just look at the Jazz woes. Well, woes is the wrong wor, as the team is shooting a good amount of threes 22.7 attempts a game. They just are making .309 percent of them. George Hill and Rodney Hood are both taking 5.7 threes a game, but are a combined 11 for 34. That’s basically hitting one out of every three attempts. That’s not very dangerous in this era of basketball.
But it’s not all on them. Trey Lyles, Boris Diaw, Shelvin Mack, and Dante Exum aren’t pulling their weight from deep. Lyles is 3 for 10, a little low for what we want for him this year. The rest of that crew: zero for 11.
Utah is going to have to find a way to make San Antonio miss, while doing the opposite on their end.
TWO: Derrick Favors
He’s starting his first game of the season. He’s had some big games against the Spurs. And he’s fearless. But I don’t think he’s going to play that much. Furthermore, Quin Snyder is likely going to be mixing him and Rudy Gobert in and out depending on what the Spurs are doing tonight. What we’ve seen Snyder do is match-up against the other coach, instead of dictate the match-ups. And Gregg Popovich is going to mix and match all night long looking for mismatches.
I’d love to see more of Favors and Rudy on the court tonight at the same time. They will get their shot early against LaMarcus Aldridge and Pau Gasol. But I don’t think we’re going to see them out there for more than, perhaps, 12 minutes together tonight.
THREE: Will the real Dante step up?
Dante Exum was super passive as a rookie. That summer he looked super aggressive. Then we didn’t see him for an entire year. This preseason he looked ready to take the next step. Is he? So far this preseason he has found a few spots to flash his brilliance with the ball. And his defense has been legit against everyone not named Jamal Crawford. But he has yet to hit a three. And while he has gotten to the line a little bit (2.3 times a game), I think he can easily pump that up a little more with a little more selfish play.
I want him to be a little more selfish out there on the court.
Of course, if the real Dante is a passive one, then please sit down.
The Spurs seem to have endless energy for rebounds this year. They lead the league with 47.3 RPG, with 12.5 of them being on the offensive end. In the “Four factors”, they rank 5th in ORB% and 2nd in DRB%. I’ve never seen a team go for 30/80% there, which is demonstrably more than half every game. It’s not just Aldridge and Gasol either. Dewayne Dedmon is getting 7.3 rpg off the bench. David Lee is grabbing 6.8 rpg off the bench. And Kyle Anderson (starting for currently injured Danny Green) is grabbing 5.0 rpg.
It’s been a true team effort, as even their guards get out there and get those long rebounds.
If Utah is going to have a chance tonight it’s going to have to start with honest work on the glass. Favors and Gobert do their bit. But there has to be an equal effort from the rest of the team. It’s the little things that count. Hustling a little bit harder for rebounds out of your area is what it takes to build a program that can win every night. So I’m going to need to see guys like Rodney Hood (3.7 rpg), Joe Johnson (3.7 rpg), Trey Lyles (3.0 rpg) and others going out there as hard as their Spurs counterparts.
One guy I don’t have to worry about is George Hill. He seems to play best against his former coach. He’s going to be all over the court tonight, especially on the glass.
If you can believe it, the Spurs never foul. Or rather, they are never called for fouls. The opposite is the conventional opinion of the Jazz. Enjoy the whistles tonight Jazz fans.