1. Jazz’s poor and unlucky 2nd quarter costs them tonight’s game.
The Celtics outscored the Jazz 38-14 in the second quarter, through a mix of Jazz offensive struggles and a lack of defensive effort. As Quin Snyder explained about his 2nd quarter play, “We didn’t play hard… We played soft as much as anything. There’s just nothing we did with any force. There wasn’t the urgency on defense that we’ve been playing with. We didn’t have the right focus when the game started.”
Let’s go through and figure out exactly what happened. In the 2nd quarter, on offense:
Going back and rewatching it, it wasn’t as bad as of a trainwreck as I thought it was going to be. While they did turn over the ball 6 times, the Celtics only got 7 points off of that in the 2nd. Here’s what happened for all 12 of the Celtic 2nd quarter made baskets.
That’s the best shooting quarter I’ve ever seen from Tayshaun Prince, who’s a notorious non-shooter. I’d suspect he, on average, would make 1 or 2 of those shots if he got those same 6 looks again. Per NBASavant, Avery Bradley is 30.5% this season from beyond the arc with the closest defender more than 7 feet away, he hit 2 of those looks in this quarter.
It wasn’t brilliant, by any means, but I think that with average shot luck, the Jazz probably lose that quarter by 10 or so. Ultimately, they missed enough shots, and the Celtics made enough hard ones, that the 24 point halftime lead was too difficult to overcome.
2. Trey Burke’s offense vs. Dante Exum’s defense
Yeah, I know, I’ve talked a lot about this comparison between the Jazz’s two point guards recently, including only 48 hours ago. But tonight’s game was a nice illustration of the differences between the two guards. Dante Exum had 0 points, on only 2 shots. He only garnered 2 assists and 1 rebound in his 25 minutes of play. On the other hand, Trey Burke had 18 points on 20(!) shots in 32 minutes, but had 0 assists and played some pretty shoddy D at times.
I asked Quin Snyder about this dichotomy between his two point guards:
“If you look at how many minutes starters play with each other in an NBA game, it’s not that much really over the course of an entire game. So it’s really always all about combinations. Trying to find different combinations that work. What I would really like to get to is that Trey’s both a offensive and defensive player, and Dante’s a defensive and offensive player. That’s where I’m not going to be satisfied with Dante not being efficient offensively, and not playing with enough toughness, and I’m not going to be satisfied with Trey not defending and not being as tough as he needs to be on the ball.
We’ll just keep looking for the guys who want to play the way we’re playing. For the most part, both of those guys have done that this year, or at least tried to. Who we play and who we start and how that mixes up. You know, Enes tonight played with so much passion. You can feel it. Sometimes a player can force you to play them. Like, coaches want to win. So as far as minutes go you can go to a game thinking Trey or Dante, and if they’re both playing great I want to try to play both of them. Tonight, Dante looked really tired to me, and we substituted Trey earlier in the second half. I want both of those guys, if they can push each other, all the better.”
Snyder’s one of the best coaches in the league at giving you an idea of what he’s thinking about his rotational adjustments, and the quote above is one of the best examples of that. 3 It’s much appreciated.
3. Utah’s shortening its rotation.
A lot of this is due to injury, but Quin Snyder played just 9 players tonight, and furthermore, Trevor Booker played just 4:26, and not at all in the 2nd half. Even in the Jazz’s 35 point win on Saturday, only 9 players played until the last 6 minutes of the 4th, and in the game before that, the Jazz played just 8 men total. With Rodney Hood and Alec Burks out, Quin clearly feels he has about 9 players on the roster who he can trust.
That’s not good news for:
It’s really a bummer for all of these guys, who all have been great to deal with. Fans were looking forward to see what Novak could put up after the Jazz acquired him in a trade this offseason, but it’s now clear that the 2nd round pick was the prize in that deal. Ian Clark is a fantastic story, winning Summer League MVP after graduating from small school Belmont. And Jeremy Evans is the absolutely ideal 11th-12th man, putting up efficient stats at all points of his career, while still being super entertaining with his dunks and blocks. Still, you understand Snyder’s motivation, as he’s looking to consolidate the offensive and defensive gains his team has made in the last 4-6 weeks.