The Triple Team: Three Thoughts on Jazz vs. Magic 3/22/2014

March 22nd, 2014 | by Andy Larsen
(Photo by Melissa Majchrzak/NBAE via Getty Images)

(Photo by Melissa Majchrzak/NBAE via Getty Images)

1. Trey Burke gets the credit for the game winner, but Gordon Hayward was the one who won the game for the Jazz.

Trying to get themselves out of a 3 point deficit while being out of timeouts with 20 seconds left, the Jazz had to work quickly. According to Gordon Hayward, the plan in that situation is simply to get the ball down the floor as quickly as possible, trying to create penetration for the ballhandler and begin forcing defensive rotations. It worked three times for Gordon Hayward. First, he was fouled1 running down the floor, leading to two free throws. Hayward sunk both. After Arron Afflalo made his two FTs, Hayward again ran the ball down the floor, using a high pick and roll to draw defenders, then passing to the screener Favors for an easy layup. Once more, Afflalo went to the line, but this time he made just one of his FTs. Again, Hayward went down the floor quickly, drawing defenders on a drive to the basket, this time finding Trey Burke for a corner three with just 1.6 seconds left. Impressive repeated execution by Hayward when even one failure would have cost Utah the game.

For his part, Trey Burke’s three was made tough by the quick closeout of Victor Oladipo. Oladipo, who has good size and athleticism, made Burke get more arc on the shot than normal, but it still went in for three points. Burke credited working with Johnnie Bryant in practice on being able to hit shots with arc like his game winner. Generally, in practice, he said it was Lucas or Diante Garrett flying at him for on the closeout. Perhaps Burke’s experience with Garrett’s 6’4” size coming at him in practice helped tonight when the 6’4” Oladipo closed out.

2. But is the win a good thing?

For fans of a team that’s at the bottom of the Western Conference, this becomes the difficult question to answer.  Let’s break down the pros and cons:

Pros:

  • The win probably keeps the team engaged for the remaining 12 games. We don’t know that the Jazz would have turned off had they gone on a losing slide at the end of the year, but it seems possible to likely that they would have. That’s 12 games of lost development.
  • Winning is more fun. This sounds like a small thing, but Hayward said that tonight’s game was fun! That’s a good thing from a player who has said that playing basketball has seemed “like a job” at times this year.  This might mean more practice time, which means developing skills for the players.
  • It creates more camraderie within the team. Everyone was legitimately excited for Trey Burke’s three, bringing the team together on and off the court. For a team without a leading voice, the collective working together really could help later on (especially defensively).

Cons:

  • It’s now probably impossible for the Jazz to become the third-worst team in the league. Before the game, Orlando was only 3 games back of Utah. A Magic win would have brought the Magic to within 2 games, with the possibility of another win against the Lakers tomorrow. Now, with a 4 game deficit, the Magic position is probably safe.  The 3rd worst team has a 46.9% chance at a top 3 pick, while the 4th worst team has a 37.8% chance.
  • The Lakers now have one fewer win than the Jazz, though are technically tied due to their one fewer loss. This win pushes the Jazz into a three-way tie for 4th, making it more likely the Jazz finish with the league’s 6th worst record, which only has a 21.5% chance at a top 3 pick.
  • It probably also makes it somewhat less likely that Jazz youngsters and friends Ian Clark and Rudy Gobert see minutes moving forward. Tonight, the Jazz used an 8 man rotation, completely eschewing Jeremy Evans, Clark, Gobert, Brandon Rush, and Malcolm Thomas in favor of Marvin Williams, Diante Garrett, and John Lucas III. A win probably makes it less likely that Corbin will turn to the young bench players for relief, instead seeking the “magic” of tonight’s win.

So… was a win worth it? You decide.

3. The Jazz is a better team than the Magic are.

That sentence above uses each team’s preferred grammatical plurality. That is to say, the Jazz’s PR department says that the Jazz are correctly referred to as a singular entity, while the Magic believe themselves to be a plural collection of players2. There’s some evidence for both sides’ opinion (see this article, for example), but ultimately it seems as if most media entities have agreed to go with referring to the Jazz in the plural. This means some out-of-place looking statements from the official Jazz accounts when using the singular. That being said, the singular/plural debate is apparently one of intense debate inside Jazz offices.

Salt City Hoops has chosen to align with other media sources, referring to the Jazz in the plural. This is largely because it seems more natural to me, and I would be terrible at editing it in the opposite direction.

Andy Larsen

Andy Larsen

Andy Larsen is the Managing Editor of Salt City Hoops, the ESPN TrueHoop affiliate for the Utah Jazz. He also hosts a radio show and podcast every week on ESPN700 AM in Salt Lake City.
Andy Larsen

4 Comments

  1. Joshua says:

    I’m sorry but i can never see a win as a bad thing. This group of young core players need to learn how to play together and win together! That’s the most important thing for now, let offseason chips fall where they made.

  2. cw says:

    Winning bad.

  3. Timothy says:

    Winning is good if the young players earn it. I just want to have the young players do it all these last few games, and go all experimental. Jefferson and Williams’s minutes should be maximized at 15. Dig deep to find out what these young guys can do. Especially Ian Clark and his contract situation. John Lucas is gone, Diante Garrett is staying, Raul Neto could possibly come over.

    • cw says:

      By all means sit hayward and favors and play Clark and gobert. And lose all the rest of the games. The more games lost the better.

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