1. Jazz without Hayward… are they tanking?
The Jazz played without Gordon Hayward tonight, Hayward’s first DNP of the season. Hayward was ruled out due to a muscle strain in his left hip flexor. When I asked Ty Corbin if he knew when the injury occurred, he said, “No. A hip flexor’s usually muscle tightness; it could happen when you’re sleeping.” That all seems suspicious for a team which maybe has won too much over the past month. Maybe the Jazz noticed that Hayward nearly single-handedly won Tuesday’s game against Oklahoma City with his 37 point performance, and decided that it couldn’t happen again?
I feel that’s really unlikely: first of all, the incentive isn’t really there for Hayward to play along: this is a contract year for him, and missed games never look good, but especially when they take him out of what had been an excellent stretch of games for the Butler man. Nor is the incentive there for Ty Corbin to play along, after all, he’s in a contract year too. Finally, according to this website on hip flexor injuries,
“Freq[u]ently a hip flexor strain is the result of an overly forceful contraction. This can occur during a sprint or a series of sprints. The strain can also be the result of overuse (kicking/ sprinting) and associated “micro traumas”. A micro trauma can be considered a tiny i[n]perceptable tear. These tiny tears accumulate over time and eventually result in a strain and pain.”
Hayward, remember, is second in the NBA in distance traveled, and undoubtedly sprints for much of that, going an average of 4.4 MPH during his time on the floor. It wouldn’t be surprising for a player who has sprinted so much to get these microtraumas due to heavy use. Given that the press release also indicated Hayward underwent an ultrasound, it all adds up. Corbin agreed, noting that it was better to be on the safe side of the injury, noting that if he kept playing, the injury could get worse. Hopefully, with nearly a week between Tuesday’s game against OKC and Monday’s game against Denver, those tiny tears have time to heal. It’s clear, though, that Utah’s better with Hayward on the floor, in particular, they miss his ability both offensively and defensively when the opposing team goes on a run.
2. Cavs dominated the 3rd quarter, largely through Kyrie Irving.
You knew this already. But the 3rd belonged to the Cavs in a way that should be worrisome to the Jazz: the 39 points that the Cavs scored in the 3rd was their highest scoring quarter this season. The Jazz allowed the Cavs to make 16 of their 23 shots, including every single one of their 3s. At the end of the quarter, they went on a 25-8 run to put the game away.
Kyrie Irving was especially spectacular, scoring 17 points in the quarter. He put defenders in the washing machine, though the two plays in which he most drastically broke the ankles of his opponents he proceeded to miss the open jump shot that followed. It does have to be a little bit worrisome for the Utah defense, though, to give up record setting performances offensively. Trey Burke is still a rookie defensively, and all of Marvin Williams, Richard Jefferson and Alec Burks were blown by or overpowered at times. In my opinion, this isn’t one of those bad performances that the team should throw the video away of, but one they can likely learn from in the future.
3. C.J. Miles returned to Utah, and had some interesting thoughts on the coaches that nurtured the beginning of his career.
This isn’t C.J.’s first visit back to Utah, but it’s always nice for both players and fans to see a former player return to where they began their career. Indeed, C.J. said that this return was a little more successful than last year’s return:
It’s a little better this time. Last year’s trip wasn’t as successful. It’s always fun to see everybody. There aren’t as many players there that I played with — I played with Gordon, Jeremy, Alec, Enes, Fav and the coaching staff I was with my last year. I mean, just everybody in the building. Seeing everybody in the same places, like security guards, people showing me some love for coming back.
Before the game, and perhaps feeling that appreciation, Miles went over to Ty Corbin, shared a quick word, hug, and handshake with the Jazz coach. When Deseret News man Jody Genessey asked how Corbin important Miles was to his career, C.J. responded,
As big as anybody. That’s who I was with every day the first couple years of my career — before the game, after the game, before practice, after practice. Everything — that’s who I talked with, he’s the one who taught me a lot about this league, how to play off the ball. Coming out of high school, I played with the ball in my hands a lot. I had to learn to play in a system. He put a bug in my ear about playing hard all the time, and that was going to give me playing time.
Finally, C.J. had some thoughts on his head coach during his time in Utah, and especially his jersey retirement ceremony coming up at the end of the month:
Well deserved. That’s the first thing I said. He deserves it. I mean, all the time he put into this organization. Everything was always an extension of him — the coaches, the players on the floor. Everything that he embodied, you put it into the program: Toughness. Playing hard. All the players coming through here, he turned them into men. He’s legendary. Plain and simple.
It’s been great to hear the appreciation for Jerry in the last month, as reporters, players, and coaches realize that his special ceremony is coming. Tonight was not an exception.