1. This is the story of the Jazz’s season: They give up a lead in the 1st half, fight back in the 2nd, but lose the game.
Here’s tonight’s quarter by quarter breakdown:
Just for fun, let’s count how many times this script has taken place:
So sure, these are individual instances, so maybe you’re saying to yourself “not all of these happened in the same game that many times, right?” Well, if you restrict the script to “losing in the 3rd quarter, then made triumphant comeback in 2nd half to get close, but then lost, it’s happened 11 times. That’s a majority of losses by the Jazz.
This isn’t how most teams do it. The top 5 teams in 3rd quarter point differential are:
Those other teams are on pace for at least 59 wins. The Jazz are on pace for 61 losses. It’s maddening.
I mean, I suppose it’s a good sign that the Jazz have the potential to beat teams for stretches of games, especially in the 3rd when both teams are playing their starters big minutes. At least they’re not a team like the Pistons, Hornets, Lakers, Timberwolves, and Magic who lose all of their quarters on average. Coach Snyder, on the plus side, has said this shows that his team is “coachable”, that they’re responding well to the adjustments made at halftime. Maybe Snyder should give his halftime speech before the 1st half begins.
2. Rudy Gobert continues to make a huge impact on the defensive end.
With Derrick Favors injured in the 1st quarter and out for the rest of the game with a sprained ankle, Rudy Gobert had his season-high in playing time tonight, with 25 minutes and 38 seconds on the floor. He used that time well, getting career-highs in blocks (5)1, assists (4)2 and a season-high in rebounds (11).
But wow, he just makes such an impact on the defensive end for the Jazz. Here’s the Heat’s shot chart in the first half, when Rudy had just 4:44 of playing time:
And here’s Miami’s shot chart for the second half, when Rudy played 20:54:
So instead of 15 restricted area looks, the Heat got just 6 in the Gobert-heavy 2nd half. Instead of 15 paint makes in the Gobert-light 1st half, the Heat made just 4 in the second half. But that even sort of understates the story! In those nearly 5 minutes Gobert was on the floor in the 1st half, the Heat had just 1 paint make. And in the 3 minutes Gobert was sitting in the 2nd half, the Heat got 2 of their restricted-area makes.
Overall, it adds up to an 86.2 points given up per 100 possessions while Gobert was on the floor, wildly better than the Jazz’s overall DRtg of 114 in tonight’s game. The Jazz’s defensive improvement in the 2nd half can’t entirely be attributed to Gobert: the other 4 Jazz players on the floor performed better too. But Gobert is such a deterrent inside, it’s clear he deserves a lot of the credit.
3. Final inbounds play costs the Jazz the game.
The Jazz, taking advantage of a rare out-of-bounds traveling call on Miami, fought their way back to a situation where they had the ball, within 3 points, with 5 seconds left despite being down 6 with under a minute to go. Instead of inbounding the ball, Joe Ingles held onto it too long for a 5-second violation.
Ingles mentioned after the game that it was a very similar play to what the Jazz have run in the same situation against New York and Cleveland, in which the Jazz hit buzzer-beating game winning shots. The difference was that here, the Jazz needed a 3, rather than just 2 points. As a result, the Heat front blocked every player at the 3 point line, knowing that the Jazz wanted to keep the ball outside of the arc. That’s hard to do, so give credit to the Heat there.
I’ve read some early criticism of having Ingles take the ball out there, but I’m not sure who else I’d rather have doing it. Trey is almost too small: at 6’0”, he might be swallowed up by the inbounds defender. As Snyder pointed out, “Ingles is 6’8”, and anytime you have height like that in that situation, it’s an advantage.” Hayward, ideally, would be the one receiving the ball, rather than passing the ball in that situation, ditto with Steve Novak. Kanter was in the game to set screens, I certainly don’t want him passing in the ball. Hood and Exum might be logical choices given their length and passing ability, but they’re also pretty inexperienced, and have never faced Dwyane Wade doing jumping jacks in their face in a pressure situation like that. In the end, I thought it was the right choice; it just didn’t work out.