EMPTYING THE NOGGIN – Complete Effort comes up short in the end

Summary: The Jazz put out a complete effort but are unable to close it out against the Miami Heat.
• The Jazz played really well tonight, but the Miami Heat made all the have-to-make-to-win plays late in the game.

• The final plays of the game will get most of the talk, but two plays that could have avoided those moments even being relevant were a Joe Ingles 3 and a Derrick Favors miss. The Heat were trying to keep the ball out of Donovan Mitchell’s hands in the back court. Mitchell was able to get it and he pushed it ahead to Joe Ingles who the Heat had forgotten to guard while being so consumed with Donovan. One of the best three point shooters wide open on the left side from three. This is a shot Joe makes more than 50% of the time. He missed. Jazz would have been up 7 with 2:30 left. It swirled deep in the cup and came out.

• Another late moment play was Mitchell driving to the basket, the defense collapsed on him and he was able to get the ball to Favors. It wasn’t a clean catch, but with his amazing hands Favors was able to control it and went up the shot. He missed. Derrick is shooting a career high 74% in the restricted area. This one didn’t go. It would have put the Jazz up 7 with 1:28 left

• Those misses left it as a possession by possession game late and the Heat made those plays as well.

• With 1:08 left and the Jazz up 3, Josh Richardson, who is a very good defender was switched onto Donovan. Dragic went to Ingles and Tyler Johnson to Hood. Richardson knocked the ball away from Mitchell and as they dove after it, it went off Mitchell for a turnover.

• The Jazz still lead by 1 with :37.7 left. The Heat committed to not let Donovan get the ball after he had scored and made the pass to Favors on the two previous possessions. This probably the largest statement of who Donovan has become that I have seen all season long. The Heat simply weren’t going to allow Donovan beat them.

• The ball was inbound to Rodney. He struggled to get his dribble down at first but then got across the half line and waved off his teammates and doesn’t use the Ingles pick. Then he worked one on one on Tyler Johnson into a contested three point shot that barely nicked iron.

• The Heat called timeout 7.8 seconds and ran a nice play where Donovan Mitchell badly lost contact with Josh Richardson and then got buried on a pick. Richardson caught the inbound came off an Kelly Olynyk pick used a great hesitation move and beat Derrick Favors for a layup.

• Then on the final play the Heat did an amazing job of not switching any of the Jazz action and staying completed connected with all the options forcing a pass into the back court where Donovan Mitchell got the pass and crossed mid court with 3 seconds and took an off balance shot that had little chance to win the game. Rodney Hood had run by on a peel route and while Donovan said afterwards he should have passed I am not sure with the 1.7 seconds left that he really had enough time to do that.

• Donovan needs to do a better job here to give Derrick Favors a chance to get a pick on his man. I have watched the play a bunch of time and can’t figure out how Favors could have picked off Richardson. Donovan had to force Richardson into Favors by changing the angle in some fashion. Then the ball doesn’t have to go as far into the back court.

• Quin Snyder likes the idea of the ball handler coming downhill into that play. If the play has another .5 seconds the pass to Rodney is a lot more feasible.

• The difference in these two plays is the ability of Miami to stay connected and not switch or lose their man. The Jazz didn’t force Miami off them and on the other end Miami got free and the Jazz lost connection.

• Jazz did a ton of things really well in this game. They stayed engaged for 48 full minutes and were really solid. The Heat run a quick early offense to Wayne Ellington that has been destroying people and the Jazz completely eliminated the early action. Joe Ingles, Rodney Hood and Donovan Mitchell all played really good trail defense on Ellington to negate his impact. The defense on Goran Dragic for the first half was great. The Jazz battled back from deficits to take control of the game. Donovan went off in the third quarter to surge the Jazz into the lead. Ekpe Udoh made a huge play to keep the Jazz in control putting the ball on the floor going to the basket and scoring,

• Thabo Sefolosha showed great leadership tonight. He was regularly bringing the team together and helping them thru the night. He was a visible leader on the floor. The jazz huddled and communicated more tonight than I have seen in a while.

• Without Rudy Gobert the Jazz margin for error is slim. The obvious plays late will be the items that are talked about, but Josh Richardson out running the Jazz in transition, a close to the right corner on James Johnson with hand down instead of up are equaling important and the plays that are easier to control