One. A tale of many Utahs.
First game of a five game / seven nights road trip. Is this the Utah Jazz team that won three in a row, or lost three in a row? 2017 is a new year, let’s hope we don’t get the ‘same old Jazz’ that play down to their competition. The bigger problem is that it’s another game without George Hill. With Hill running things the Jazz look capable of beating any time. Without Hill, well, things are a little different. And tonight the Jazz will be without Hill.
Two. Alec Burks, PG, SG, or just happy to be here?
The Utah Jazz are rotating injured rotation players right now. Point guards George Hill and Dante Exum are out. But combo guard Alec Burks is back. We haven’t seen a lot of him lately (just 37.5 minutes between JAN 2016 - DEC 2016), or much more at all under Quin Snyder. We’ve seen a lot of Shelvin Mack, though. And the reviews of Mack are honestly more mixed than they should be.
Is Snyder going to slot Alec in at the 3rd wing? The 4th wing? 5th wing? Or is Burks, in this game where two point guards are out, going to see much more time in that “Triple Wing” (which is such a bs term, it’s a propaganda war because no one is allowed to call Alec Burks someone who can play PG, not since Greg Miller was upset that Karl Malone suggested as such back on NBA TV in the Mo Williams / Randy Foye era) line-up?
First game back after an injury, another surgery, and another recovery period? Is he going to be tentative? Will he drive to the rim, unafraid? What’s his defense going to be like? We have a lot to watch out for tonight. None bigger than if Randy Foye is still better than him.
Three. Iso-Joe Revenge Game?
Joe Johnson scored over 4k points in a Nets uniform over the 300 or so games he played there. So far for the Jazz he has managed a 10-piece bucket under 300, in 34 games. It’s easy to see that it’s not the same rate anymore. Johnson is coming off the bench regularly, and shooting the ball only 7 times a game. Man, even with the Miami Heat last season he was still putting up 10.5 FGA/G.
Last Jazz game he just made two. Two points. In fact, over the 34 Utah games so far this season, he has gone for 10 or more points in just 13 of them. Is that bad? Well, he has scored 5 or fewer points in 9 different games. Rounding here, he has a 1⁄3 chance of scoring 0-5 points, 6-9 points, and 10+ points on any given night.
That’s not the guy I expected when he signed as a free agent last July. I’m not saying he should start and take 18 shots a game. I am saying please score more than 2 points tonight.
Four. How do the Nets win?
Actually double that number: Eight. That is how many wins Brooklyn has this season.
- Indiana Pacers (103-94)
- Detroit Pistons (109-101)
- Minnesota Timberwolves (119-110)
- @ Phoenix Suns (122-104)
- Los Angeles Clippers (127-122) <— Double OT
- Denver Nuggets (116-111)
- Los Angeles Lakers (107-97)
- Charlotte Hornets (120-118) <— Randy Foye game winner
What’s the common theme in these wins? Well, all but one of them were home games. Tonight’s game is at home. Only two of these teams are “good teams”. And in both of those cases the same had some funky situation to it.
But for me the most common theme here seems to be that these are high scoring games. If you play a high scoring game against the Nets — the team which plays at the highest pace in the NBA (and yet somehow scores only the 11th most PPG) — their random variance may end up paying off for them.
None of their wins were slow, grind it out games. All of their wins were firefights. Utah needs to take care of the rebounds and slow the pace down. It’s fun to run and gun. It’s not in the Jazz nature to do so. Do not be tempted by it!
Five. Trevor Booker has vowed to dunk on Rudy Gobert
Yeah. This is something to watch.