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Emptying the Noggin — Jazz can’t slow down Celtics in Boston

By David Locke, Utah Jazz

Summary: Boston’s offense destroyed the Jazz’s defense, and the Celtics cruised to an easy win over the Jazz.

·       The Jazz found no answer for Boston’s offensive system all night. Boston plays a five-out offense where all five players are playing outside the paint. A player will cut through the lane, but then never stop in the paint and the offense continues with five out and the lane wide open. This sent the Jazz for loops we haven’t seen all year. Boston was able to get dribble penetration into the paint and then when the Jazz’s defense shifted into the lane to help, they ended up in a complete scramble.

·       The Jazz are the second best team at not allowing three-point shots to be taken by their opponents, allowing just 26.8% of opponents’ total shots to be threes. Tonight, Boston took over 40% of their shots as threes. The Jazz couldn’t control the ball and once that happened, it was over and Boston was bombing away, making shots.

·       Isaiah Thomas is unreal. He had a career high in assists. Again, he got into the paint, broke the defense down and could then throw it back out for a three. In his case, it was a direct pass to a basket with 15 assists. For many others, the pass led to another pass and another pass and the Celtics just kept getting looks.

·       The Jazz’s transition defense was not as good as usual to start the game, and at the same time, the Jazz had no presence on the offensive glass. The Jazz had zero offensive rebounds in the first half and the Celtics came into the game the worst defensive rebounding team in the NBA.

·       The Celtics were the first team who had a defense designed to take away Rudy Gobert. They had a body or two on Rudy on every roll to the basket. They switched a lot of pick and rolls so the guard or wing was big enough to stay between Rudy and the basket. This is where it would be nice if Rudy had some sort of the offensive back-to-the-basket game to take advantage of the smaller player. The Celtics eliminated the roll of Rudy. This is going to happen in the playoffs.

·       Gordon Hayward had a nice offensive game. He got cheers from the Boston crowd that sent Jae Crowder into a twitter tantrum after the game. Crowder was awesome tonight, hitting on all five of his three-point attempts.

·       Derrick Favors looked better tonight. He had a bit more bounce offensively. Defensively, he still seemed anchored to the ground a bit. His passes were great — he had his career high assists in the game.

·       The Jazz had a season-high in assists and had a really good offensive game. They just couldn’t get stops.

·       Joe Johnson took over and was unguardable for a while. The Jazz are going to need Joe Johnson to be this aggressive offensively until Rodney Hood can be a consistent night-in and night-out offensive scorer.

·       I loved Rodney Hood’s six free throws.

·       The Jazz went eight minutes without a point guard tonight with George Hill absent and it didn’t work out. In those eight minutes, the Jazz were a -10. The Jazz were trying to take advantage of Thomas defensively and didn’t have the personnel to do it. The last seven healthy starting point guards had crushed the Celtics. The problems were defensive and getting stops with these lineups.

·       Alec Burks didn’t play. There are not a lot of minutes for Alec right now. Quin is going to make an effort to get Alec on the floor, but he is rusty and probably can’t be expected to be very good for a while so it’s hard to find him time. There also aren’t a lot of minutes at the big man positions. If Favors is playing up to 30 minutes and Rudy is playing 36, then that is 66 of the 96 total big minutes accounted for. That leaves just 30 minutes to be divided between Lyles, Diaw and Johnson/Ingles (if we play small).”

·       This was the Jazz’s second worst defensive performance of the year — only the Miami game was worse by the numbers.

·       This game was the Jazz’s inability to stop the Celtics. The offense was really good with big additions from Diaw, Johnson and Favors. The defense never showed the slightest sign of stopping Boston, allowing a 126.9 defensive rating.