01 January 2012
At first glance it would appear the Jazz were outclassed and out-gassed by San Antonio. The fact of the matter is, Utah did almost everything right with two exceptions; they couldn't hit the 3-ball or beat the Spurs' excellent screens.
One of the biggest deficits for the Jazz, especially against the Spurs, has been dribble penetration and pick-and-roll defense. The new force baseline defense was employed successfully in this regard versus San Antonio for the first time since it's implementation by Ty Corbin. Al Jefferson, maligned, and rightfully so in the past, for his defense, played magnificently against Tim Duncan, keeping him away from the rim and holding him to lower percentage shots, 2-10 from the floor, head-to-head.
As a whole, the Jazz rotated properly, if a step slower than need be. They'll need to learn to anticipate screens better defensively, as this was where the Spurs beat them. Let's look deeper at how Gregg Popovich's boys did ther damage.
In the last two games last season the Spurs dominated Utah in PnR (pick-and-roll) play and paint penetration, Utah giving up a combined 106 points in the paint, Tony Parker and Manu Ginobili combining for 74 points on 44 shots with only five total of their makes coming outside the paint. Last night the Jazz quelled this almost entirely, winning the paint 48-36, forcing the Spurs to play from the perimeter.
The thing is, they were able to, and ridiculously well.
The Jazz held the PnR ball-handler to a mere 33.3%, the roll man to less than 43% last night. But sometimes the hot hand burns you. Ginobili had made a combined four field goals outside the paint against Utah in his previous 62 minutes. In last night's game he'd made five in less than 14 minutes. And just kept it rolling from there on until the game was out of hand.
It's not that the Jazz didn't fight through screens -- OK, watching SynergySports, Raja did not. But Josh Howard did -- it's just that Manu is so good that all he requires is a sliver of daylight to make a play happen.
On this play Tiago Splitter would set a killer screen and roll to the paint getting the ball from Ginobili.
As they did all game long, the Jazz collapsed to the paint, stymying the PnR with force baseline defense as they'd been taught by Ty Corbin. Splitter would be forced to kick out to Matt Bonner as Manu would recognize the play dead and sprint back to the 3-point line.
The Jazz would rotate as Bonner receives the Splitter pass.
Other than maybe not anticipating the rotations earlier the Jazz did everything right here, all players on their way to picking up a man or positioning themselves for what is a miss two-thirds of the time. However, Manu did not miss. Like, EVER, on this night.
This game was an aberration for even the inimitable Manu Ginobili, as he'd go 9-10 from the floor, six of his ten shots coming outside the paint and 5-6 from 3. Indeed, the Jazz would lose by 15 and the entire deficit can be accounted for by Manu Ginobili's five made 3-pointers.
Initially, it might feel like the Jazz played awful, but sometimes the other team just wins.