1. Can the Utah Jazz defense continue to play this well without Derrick Favors?
The Utah Jazz held the Atlanta Hawks to 68 points on Friday with Boris Diaw and Trey Lyles playing the 4 position almost all night. That’s no small task considering they were guarding Paul Millsap. The truth is, they didn’t just guard the three time all star, they stifled (Rudy emoji needed) him to 11 points and 5 rebounds on 36% shooting. That’s impressive considering Millsap, as we all know, has the ability to shoot from deep, but also penetrate and score or dish. Even more impressive, Millsap didn’t just shoot poorly, he also came away with 0 assists. That means the Jazz system worked and Trey Lyles and Boris Diaw played really well.
This becomes interesting with Derrick Favors’ contract coming up. The Jazz have major contract decisions to make coming up, the main one being how do we resign resident ninja and destroyer of worlds, George Hill. Can the Jazz keep this up without Favors? That brings us to our next question.
2. Who starts at the power forward?
With Derrick Favors not traveling with the team, Quin probably starts Boris at the power forward spot, but it’s clear he is a fan of Trey Lyles game and future. And he should be. Even though Trey Lyles is only shooting 24% on 3 point shots, he’s shooting 49% on 2 point shots, up 3 percentage points from last year. This looks like a slump to me, an extended one, because last year Trey shot 38% on three point shots. If Trey can find his shot and get that 3 point percentage up, than our offense becomes like when the power rangers call in the green ranger and the dragonzord tears everything to pieces.
3. Rudy vs. KAT
If you haven’t watched Karl Anthony Towns you're in for a treat. He’s an athletic monster who can shoot and also drive. Here’s some highlights of him against Marc Gasol a few weeks ago.
These are the matchups I love. Rudy is coming off of a dominating performance against Dwight Howard. This seems much more difficult with KAT’s ability to spread the floor with his shot and pull the opposing big out of the paint. Rudy does reasonably well in space, but is much better when he’s allowed to patrol the paint. It will be interesting to see how Quin uses Trey Lyles and Boris Diaw to help keep Rudy in the paint so he can do Rudy things.
4. Will we get that #1 spot?
Defense, Defense, Defense. It’s our chance to get that #1 defensive rating in the NBA. You know that Rudy is fighting for it. Here’s a retweet from Rudy after Friday’s game...
I LOVE that Rudy watches these things, not just because it shows how much he’s just like us, but because it’s important for team performance. Caring about ratings like this means that late in a fourth quarter blowout the Jazz defense won’t want to bring this down. The Jazz will continue to play four quarters of basketball and that only helps for when we make the playoffs. This also gives the Jazz serious pride and identity. Who wants to be the guy that lets Rudy down and keeps us from that #1 spot?