To Jazz Nation,
Thank you for a wonderful season. This has been a great ride, watching the years of building and work come to fruition. Watching Gordon grow from the scrawny kid from Indiana to an All-Star. To see Rudy Gobert become a bona fide threat in the NBA. Admiring Quin Snyder and his coaching staff and their incredible effort and preparation. There are so many memories.
Your passion drives me every day to give everything I have to this job. I sincerely hope you feel that from me. Thank you. It has been an honor and privilege to bring you Jazz basketball for this season. I’m excited for opening day 2017.
Summary: The Warriors’ MVPs answered the bell late with an incredible performance from Kevin Durant.
- In his postgame press conference, Quin Snyder said, “We played better than we did the first two nights and uh… uh…” He proceeded to give more of an answer but had he stopped right there, it might have summed up everything in this series. The Jazz did so much tonight and played so hard and “uh… uh…”
- The game was 80-79 with 5:57 left and from that point forward, the only Warriors points were scored by Durant and Curry. They outscored the Jazz 22-12 in the final 5:57. The Jazz missed shots but the Warriors were just remarkable late in the game.
- The exciting thing for Jazz fans is the foundational pieces for the Jazz — Gordon Hayward and Rudy Gobert — have been incredible in the playoffs. The fight these two have shown is awesome. Gordon is a different player than he was when the playoffs started. He did it again tonight. He simply carried this team when he realized others were making plays. He had 29 points and six assists. He was super aggressive against amazing defense. He hit and took tough shots. He played with a confidence and swagger that will carry him to big places next year.
- Gobert is proving he is ready for the moment. He was a force again tonight. He was 7-8 from the field and had 21 points and 15 rebounds. His effort never wavers. His pursuit of excellence is tremendous. These two guys have shown they are ready for these moments and the Jazz have a bright future with these two. Now, the front office has to build a team around them and add the pieces that fit. The third piece who compliments what they do is vital.
- The key stretch of the game was when Utah was down three, 82-79, and Hayward drove into the lane, three players collapsed on him and he swung to a wide open Boris Diaw who missed an 18 footer. Then Curry hit two free throws to make it a five-point game. Gobert hit two free throws to make it a three-point game again and after a stop, Hayward drove again, the defense collapsed again and he made a great pass to the corner to Joe Johnson who missed a 3, then Durant pulled from 19 to make it a five-point game. After Hayward hit three free throws to make it a two-point game, Curry hit a 3-footer. Hayward missed and Durant followed with a two and it was an eight-point game with 3:19 left. The night was over.
- The Jazz shot 12 of 39 in the second half of the game.
- Durant was incredible. On a night when Curry was just 6 of 20 and Thompson was 1 for 9, the Warriors now have Kevin Durant to score 38 points, grab 13 rebounds and carry them to the win.
- Rodney Hood is now 36 of 100 in the playoffs and 13 of 48 from 3. Tonight, he was 1 for 8. He is now 2 for his last 22 from 3.
- Shelvin Mack played 37 minutes in the place of George Hill. Mack is a battler. He has been a third-string pointer guard his entire career until he came to Utah. He has been incredible for the Jazz. He has been asked to start in the Western Conference semifinals against the greatest set of talent ever in NBA history.
- Joe Johnson went 3 for 12. The speed of the Warriors and the length of Durant, Iguodala and Green make it hard to manufacture his usual looks.
- The Jazz held Curry and Thompson to a combined 7 of 29 from the field.
- Boris Diaw continues to be an amazing +/- player for the Jazz in playoffs. He was +3 again today for the Jazz.
- Shelvin Mack was +6 in 37 minutes and in the 11 minutes he was off the bench the Jazz were -17.
- This is a deflating loss because the Jazz are giving so much of themselves on the court and battling with such gusto and the Warriors continually have too much firepower. They answer each run. They make the huge shots. When one guy is off, there are plenty of others to step up. They do everything so fast and so well defensively. They are a superior team.
Summary: The Jazz picked their poison and the poison got them beat. The Warriors take a 2-0 series lead with a 115-104 victory over Utah Thursday night.
- Every time Draymond Green uses a possession to take a shot, it is better than if Klay, Steph or Durant take it. Green was a 30% 3-point shooter this season. The Jazz dropped off Green to try to cut of the Warriors’ penetration and attack of the rim, and he made them pay by making 5-8 from 3. The Jazz’s strategy is the right one. If Draymond Green goes 5-8 from 3, the Warriors win. It is really that simple. Draymond Green has made these shots in the playoffs at a higher rate than in the regular season, but it all comes down to making reasonable choices to give yourself the best chance to win.
- The Jazz got blitzed early in the game again; They were down 12-3 at the first time out. The Warriors kept putting it on Utah and led it 33-13 near the end of the first quarter. From there, the Jazz fought and showed great grit to keep battling. However, every time the Jazz huff and puff, the Warriors blew the house down. It is hard to tell if the Warriors are just so good they are toying with you or if the Jazz are really making inroads throughout the game. To me, it seems like the Jazz are making progress and staying with the Warriors, but every time it gets close, Golden State stretches their lead back out.
- Gordon Hayward was brilliant. I thought he was as good as his 40-point game versus the Clippers in the first round. In Game 1, he played rushed — he seemed out of rhythm in the shots he was taking. He was terrific tonight. He was assertive. He played with a calmness and confidence, knowing what he was going to encounter. Along with his incredible offseason work, he made a bunch of changes to his game preparation and film work. It has paid huge dividends. His growth is remarkable. I am on top of the Gordon Hayward fan club, but I honestly never thought he would be this player.
- The Jazz were 4-18 to start the night in the final seven seconds of the shot clock. Then, they picked up the pace and started pushing the ball up the floor. Throughout the year, the Jazz have been able to make defenses shift, create overcompensation to their actions and then take advantage. That doesn’t work against the Warriors. Instead, the Jazz got into early actions and took the first looks they could get. It worked much better.
- The Jazz’s offensive rating (points per possession) in each of the first two games has been a notch above what the Warriors allowed for the season. Since the Jazz were ranked 12th offensively this season, that makes some sense. What the Jazz have not been able to do is get their defense to have an impact on the Warriors’ offense. They will need to do that if they are going to win a game in the series.
- The Jazz are not getting the shooting from Hood and Ingles they got during the season. The big jump in Joe Ingles’ game this year was his ability to hit the 3 off the bounce. In the playoffs, however, he is 1-12 on 3- pointers off the bounce. He is also 4-17 if a defender is within six feet of him, according to Stats Vu. This is the playoffs. Joe doesn’t have a quick release, and teams aren’t giving him room so it is hard for him to get looks. He was 1-2 tonight. Rodney is the opposite story: He is being left open and he is not making the 3. He has made just 27% of his 3-pointers this postseason. Prior to tonight’s 0-5 performance, Rodney was 2-10 if a defender was within four feet, but was 6-19 if the defender was within four to six feet. Without George Hill, the Jazz need those shooters.
- Dante had some solid play tonight and did some nice things. He knocked down a shot. He drove to the basket. He has to get a left hand dribble. It is really obvious how little he wants to use his left hand.
- Kevin Durant and Steph Curry scored 48 points on 28 shots. They can’t lose if this happens. It is virtually impossible, mathematically.
- The Jazz are battling one of the greatest teams ever compiled in NBA history. If we were playing anyone else, I would have felt as though we had turned the game in our favor at halftime and were on our way to a comeback. Against the Warriors, that thought is fleeting.
- Saturday night will be fun. An underdog crowd is a fun crowd.
Summary: The Warriors show signs of being an all-time great team with a dominating performance.
- The contrast in speed from the Clippers to the Warriors was tremendous. It seemed to stun the Jazz in the early moments of the game, though Utah got more adept as the night went on. Early on, it led to the Jazz committing a bunch of turnovers, and those turnovers are points the other way every time.
- The Warriors’ defense is incredible. They switch more than any other team in the NBA and are at a disadvantage. The Jazz were never able to penetrate the switching defense. The hope was to break the paint for the purpose of creating points for others and it happened very rarely in the first half. In the third quarter, the Jazz got a little better at breaking the paint and creating points.
- For Jazz fans, it has been hard to understand why Draymond Green could win defensive player of the year over Rudy Gobert. Once you watch him in person, it becomes more evident. Rudy is equally as impactful, but, wow, is Draymond something else. He ends up on the ball all the time. I’m not sure anyone on the Jazz scored on him all night. He seemingly never guards his man and yet is always guarding someone and it is usually the man with the ball.
- The Warriors weren’t out of the ordinary tonight and they were in complete control. The Jazz got them to shoot only 7 of 29 from 3, their offensive rating was their season average and their defensive rating was their season average. This is what the Warriors do every night. What happens when they are good?
- Hayward and Hill had poor shooting nights, which could change the Jazz’s ability to stay in the game and control the Warriors’ ability to run.
- The Warriors EFG% in transition is over 75% and they turn about 25% of all missed field goals into a fast break. If, for 1 of every 4 misses the Warriors average 1.5 pts per possession, then taking away a few misses changes the game a good deal.
- Rodney Hood had a really nice stretch in the third quarter.
- The Jazz want to force the Warriors to get out of their passing system and go one-on-one at times, and Utah couldn’t dictate that tonight. The Warriors assisted on 29 of their 33 two-point field goals.
- The Warriors hit the Jazz with a 9-0 to open the game and the Jazz fought back to get within one point, but the Warriors closed the first on a run and then hit the Jazz with a 12-4 run to open the second quarter. After that, the Jazz only got the game under 10 points on two occasions and never for longer than a minute.
- The Warriors opened the game with immense pressure on the ball, particularly on Rudy outside at 35 feet. It disrupted what the Jazz were trying to do.
- The Warriors have two of the top five players in the league and four of the top 15 or 20. A team with this much talent has ever been compiled. If the 72-win Bulls lost Jordan, they were a 50-win team with Pippen. If this team loses Curry or Durant, they are still a 67-win team.
- The last time the Warriors lost a game they were trying to win was March 10 versus Minnesota when Durant was hurt. Since then, they have won 20 of 21 games and the one loss was to Utah when they pulled all the starters after the third quarter.
- With all of this Warriors love, most of the people I talked to who covered the Warriors thought the Jazz were really good tonight.
- Game 2 on Thursday.