Emptying the Noggin – Jazz fall over the cliff in game #1 to the Spurs

Emptying the Noggin
• This is who the Spurs are and why they have been so dominant over the past two years. This team is 9 games better than any other team in the Western Conference over the last two years. That is a crazy amount. They are relentless, they come in droves. Playing them feels you are on the egde of a cliff the entire game and they are just pushing you toward a precipice all night long and they eventually knock you off

• This didn’t fully have the playoff atmosphere. The Jazz got it to 6 and then the Spurs burst out and ended the game before the third quarter was over. It was physical and it was well played, but I am not sure the Jazz got the full experience of playoff basketball.

• Tony Parker is a tough cover. The Spurs do so many things well that they force you to be almost perfect. Duncan sets the picks very low making it almost impossible to go under the pick. The Jazz point guards are trying to stay in contact with him and then end up trailing him as he goes through the lane. Jazz might have to consider going under because Parker was just 2 for 8 from 10 feet or more, but was that because the Jazz were close on him or because Parker isn’t a great shooter. He was 8 for 11 inside 10 feet.

• Parker had 7 assists – 4 for shots at the rim and 3 for three pointers. That is awesome.

• The Jazz defended the three well early, the Spurs hit just 2 of 11, but they hit three big ones to close the third quarter and that created a big margin heading into the 4th. It is so tough. You cling to the shooters and run them off the three point line but that creates an open floor for Parker to work and then he has his way. That is why they are the #1 offensive team in the NBA.

• Offenisvely the Jazz are going to have to get good performances out of Jefferson and Harris and they didn’t get either. Al was ok tonight but he wasn’t impactful at all. He went 8 of 16 but it never felt like he was impacting the game. He also had 4 assists. The Jazz will need a lot from Jefferson in the post season. Harris was just 3 for 9 and 1 for 4 from 3- he needs to be able to make Tony Parker play more defense. The few times he got aggressive Parker defended him very well and the Spurs clog the middle so well without an outside shooting threat on our end.

• Tyrone never got to the big line-up until the third quarter. This was the first time I saw a team with a specific plan for how to deal with the big line-up. They isolated Duncan on the left block and spaced the floor making it hard for the Jazz to bring a double and making it a far path for anyone to get to Duncan. In addition, they ran the bigs around a lot and off a lot of picks making them move and travel distances.

• With the big line-up on in the 3rd quarter the Jazz made a nice run to get the game to 5 at 66-61 but by the time Jeffferson checked out in foul trouble the line-up was up just 1 – 9-8. The Spurs shot 3 for 6 in that span and scored 8 points in 7 possessions which is much better than what other teams have been doing to the Jazz. Duncan scored 3 of the 4 field goals.

• The Jazz went back to the big line-up with 6:19 left and down 14 so it is hard to evaluate this portion. They got outscored 9-6. They scored those 9 points in 7 possessions. Total for the game was 17 points in 14 possessions. My guess that is better than what we did the rest of the game, but it is not as dominating as it has been.

• If the Spurs response is Duncan in the left block on Al Jefferson when we go to the big line-up my answer is go for it. It means they are taking the ball out of Paker’s hand and taking the pick and roll out of the game and that sounds like a good trade to me.

• Offensively, that line-up may struggle but a huge part of the Jazz game is offensive rebounding and Favors creates that for the Jazz.

• Favors was awesome. He showed things offensively that we haven’t seen. He took some straight up jumpers. He is getting better every time he plays. He is getting offensive rebounds and going back to the basket and his block of Duncan was vintage Favors.

• Favors played 26 minutes going against the 25 minutes and the Jazz win. It was outdone by the Manu plays 25 and the Spurs win over 80% of the time. Jazz were even when Favors was on the floor and -15 when he was on the bench. Favors is arguably the Jazz best player right now. But be careful with plus minus because Kanter was +6 and had a tough game for a good portion of the game.

• Tyrone decided to start Josh Howard rather than DeMarre Carroll. It makes sense, experience, talent a lot of things favored Howard. If Howard is right then it is perceived he is a better player than Carroll. However, Howard didn’t make his shots, but the Jazz were down 2 with the ball when Carroll came in for Howard so it is hard to make the claim this had a huge impact on the game. In the 3rd quarter the starting line-up was -4. So it was -6 for the game.

• I thought Hayward played Manu quite well in this game. Gordon is going to have a hard time in a game like this getting his offense going on anything other than spot ups but he impressively went to the line 12 times, making all 12. Hayward didn’t get a shot at the rim all game. He took all of his shots from 16 feet or more and was just 2 of 6.

• Devin Harris was 1 for 7 from outside 16 feet. The Jazz as a whole were 2 of 14 from 16 to 23 feet and 4 of 13 from three.

• Spurs got 37 shots at the rim compared to Jazz 25 shots.

• Game 1 is won by the home team at about an 80% rate the Heat blew out the Knicks, the Bulls blew out the Sixers, the Lakers blew out the Nuggets. Will be interesting to see the Jazz react in game 2- if I have a request it would be to up the ante a little more and make it more intense.