EMPTYING THE NOGGIN – Favors dominates and did the Jazz discover some things

Summary: Derrick Favors dominated the inside and the Jazz break a four game losing streak with a 114-106 win over Brooklyn Nets.
• Derrick Favors started at center tonight with Rudy Gobert out of the lineup with a knee contusion sustained in the Miami game. Favors starting at center this pushed Thabo Sefolosha into the starting lineup as the 4. The floor was wide open and nearly immediately you could see the impact it had on the Jazz offense. Ricky Rubio and Derrick Favors were able to play a pick and roll game with room and available passing lanes that have not been present with Rudy Gobert. In addition, Brooklyn only played 11 minutes of the game with a center and this allowed the Jazz to dominate the restricted area and punish the Nets.

• The Jazz may have discovered a few things tonight they can use moving forward. The combination of Rubio, Favors and Gobert has struggled very badly this year. They simply have not been able to score. With just Favors tonight, the offense had a flow and players had room to work. Quin Snyder had planned on using Derrick more in the pick and roll and more at center and he did it with great success. I would anticipate Derrick playing the non-Rudy minutes at center moving forward.

• The other discovery is using Thabo Sefolosha as the 4. The Jazz have been playing around with this recently but saw it for an extended period tonight and it has some value. Thabo is a great defensive player. He is a super cutter and an average 3-point shooter. On offense, teams respect him enough that they move out when he spreads to the 3-point line. Opponents have not been following Favors at all and stretching him was having no value. Sefolosha’s cutting is not very valuable when Favors and Gobert are both in the paint, but with just one big he brings another element. He is also a good rebounder.

• Defensively when Sefolosha, Joe Ingles, Donovan Mitchell and Ricky Rubio are on the floor they can all switch, but more importantly they are all active hand defenders. Ingles, Sefolosha and Rubio were all top 10 in steal percentage last season and Mitchell is impressing people with his defense. Couple this with either Favors and Gobert as a rim protector and you have quite a defensive unit.

• Favors’ rim protection was very good tonight

• Brooklyn is limited and not a good enough team to make season long determinations around, but what the Jazz saw tonight gives them some things to try moving forward.

• The Jazz shot selection was more in line with what it should be this season, particularly in the case of Ricky Rubio. Rubio has been unsuccessful as the second highest volume shot taker for the Jazz and took just nine shots tonight. That is where he should be. If he has a bad night, the impact is lessened. He had 10 points, 7 rebounds and 8 assists tonight.

• Rubio and Favors had a connection tonight we haven’t seen with Rubio and Gobert. Was it because the floor was spread or is there something about Favors’ game that better fits Rubio?

• Favors is better at catching bounce passes than Rudy and a bit better at catching on the move and exploding in traffic to the basket. Rudy is a vertical offensive player.

• Rodney Hood bounced back tonight with a really solid 7 of 16 shooting and 19 points. This is his third straight game with 19 points and he has shown a level of consistency in the last five games.

• Donovan Mitchell made a ton of plays tonight. He was driving to the basket and corkscrewing at the window; he was really special with some of the plays he made. He finished with 26 point and has now scored 20+ in four games this year equaling the most by any rookie.

• Joe Ingles had another well rounded line of 17 points, 6 rebounds and 5 assists.

• Solid win. Much needed win. I’m a bit reluctant to take too much from the discoveries because of Brooklyn’s limitations, but all of them are worth trying again.