Here we go.
The Jazz have lost 5 of their last 6 games. We knew that February’s schedule was going to be brutal, but this looks like a completely different team. Here are the Jazz’s 5 main issues that that are costing them games.
#5 The Pick and Roll.
If you’re a Utah Jazz fan, you know this play. It’s the most basic of plays. It takes timing, a good understanding of your teammate, a good understanding of your opponent, and good decision making. It was the base point to Jerry Sloan’s offense and Sloan made it work year after year. It was the anchor to the Jazz system.
It’s taking an entirely new role in Utah these days. It’s no longer an anchor, but an axe.
The Jazz have lost 5 out of their last 6 games and the primary weapon has been the pick and roll. Mediocre point guards look like All Stars. All-Star point guards look like hall of famers. It even stared off Linsanity. All because we can’t find an answer to the pick and roll.
#4 Pure Harris-y
There has always been a Jazz point guard who could run this offense at minimum and take over when needed. The obvious point guards were All-Star Deron Willams and one of the greatest point guards of all time, John Stockton. But even in the rebuilding years post Stockton-to-Malone era, Carlos Arroyo was able to do a solid enough job.
Enter Devin Harris. While the necessary evil of having to trade Deron Williams was a tough reality, the Jazz organization felt confident in securing a 1st round draft pick, up-and-coming Derrick Favors, and one-time All-Star Harris. The tail end of the season for Harris wasn’t bad, but there wasn’t much of it due to injury. But what was seen from Harris was promising.
Unfortunately, it hasn’t played out that way this season. Harris’ inefficiency stems from his refusal to take the ball down in the paint and his apparent confusion with the offense. His lack luster transitions on D are a major reason the pick-and-roll has been so deadly to the Jazz. Although he’s the starting point guard, Harris doesn’t even lead the team in assists. Do we need to talk about his shot selection? Harris has launched some ugly airballs and cannot be counted on for clutch shots.
#3 Defensive Focus Down The Stretch
Bar a year or two, the Jazz haven’t been known has a defensive powerhouse. They usually float around the middle of the league. They have, however, been known for physical, sound defense in the most critical part of the game: the second half. This year’s team has consistently been prone to mental lapses in the 3rd and 4th quarter. In Pacers, Lakers, and Thunder games this year, we’ve held tight for most of the game only to lose control late and ending up losing– even blown out.
#2 Roster Reverse
During all the years Sloan coached, the persistent cry of Jazz fans was, “can we please get a big man down low?” Well, now we have 4 athletic, powerful big men. However, stacking the 2 big men positions down low has sacrificed the other 3 positions. At the Point Earl Watson has been our best and yet he comes off the bench. We have a log jam of inconsistency at our shooting guard between Raja Bell, Gordon Hayward, Alek Burks and CJ Miles. Not to be outdone, our Small forward position is as stable as our shooting guard with a carrousel of rotating sort-of small forwards in Gordon Hayward, Jeremy Evans and Josh Howard. We’ve shifted our weight and it’s costing us.
On another note, can someone please answer me why we just added another forward in DaMarre Carroll? All we have are forwards. If we don’t figure out the guard situation, we’ll be looking for one in the lottery pick.
#1 Nothing Behind the Arc
The Utah Jazz are tied for 2nd to last with .293% 3 point shooting. The Jazz have been awful behind the arc this year. It’s forced the Jazz to have to plan for 2 possession plays when down by 3 with under a short time left in the quarter. It’s congesting everything down low. Above all it’s virtual a gimme every time they shoot a 3 due to the poor shots. Raja Bell has turned on the 3 point shooting as of late, but the Jazz are going to need more people to join in to free up the big guys down low.
All is Not Lost
While the Jazz’s play is down, we still have shown some moments of brilliance. Ty Corbin has been doing a great job of mixing the old and new. The youth of the team is showing right now. It’s time for the vets to step up and show the new guys how to hold tough.
With no way to dump him in a trade, we need Devin Harris to produce. Harris needs to show some leadership and some grit.
We also need Milsap to show that he’s an All Star. He needs to unleash his game.
Most of all we need more consistency from our 2s and 3s. Whether it’s Miles, Hayward, Howard, or Burks, there needs to be some tough, consistent play. The 2 and 3 are the most athletic, most talented position in the league. If we can’t get that in check, there’s no chance.