Saturday, November 2, 2013
Ready for blast off, Jazz take on Rockets Tonight!
The Utah Jazz tip off tonight at 7:00 pm versus the Houston Rockets. The Jazz are coming of a second hard fought loss the previous night to the Phoenix Suns in Phoenix. This is going to be every bit as big a test for the Jazz as was the Oklahoma City Thunder game. I would have to put Houston in my top three teams in the west with the likes of OKC and the Clippers. I think people feel that they need to gel first to get that lofty position, but the type of basketball that they play is one that does not take much time for that. They play a lot of pick and roll, push the tempo and drive and kick basketball. Not exactly execution heavy basket ball. Lets take a look at the keys for tonight's game.....
Defensively-The Jazz will see two things in heavy doses, pick and roll with Harden/Lin and Howard and drive and kick. For the Jazz to be successful against this type of offense, the rotations on the perimeter will need to be spot on. Look for Kanter, Favors and Gobert to close the lane hard thus creating the need for the "help the helper" situation. Currently the Rockets lead the league in NETRTG at 13.8 and an EFG% of 53.7% The Jazz will have to be monsters on the boards again tonight. As Houston is ranked first in rebounding and the Jazz second. The Jazz will need Gordon to crash the boards as effectively as he did last night versus the Suns. This should make for an interesting match-up as Hayward and Jefferson will be matched up with the likes of James Harden and Chandler Parson. Both good 3pt shooters and Parson is a very good rebounder from the small forward position. Houston is averaging 27 3 point attempts a game and shooting it at 37%.
Offensively-The Jazz will need to have the same first half performance they got from Gordon for the entire 48. He can not disappear in the second half like he did in Phoenix. Look for Gordon to continue to attack the basket and create for teammates. Tonight is the kind of night that Jazz need the likes of a Richard Jefferson, John Lucas III or Ian Clarke to get hot from the outside. Houston has the likes of Dwight Howard and Omer Asik down low, that will make it tough for any of the Jazz wing to be effective in the paint. Look for Burks to take it at Houston's bigs as he seems to be the only player on the roster right now, fearless enough to go strong. Hopefully it will play in the Jazz favor and get Howard and Asik in some foul trouble. Favors and Kanter are going to have the toughest test they have had early in this season. Kanter will need to be very effective with his pump fakes and pick and pop game. I would like to see Favors go to work early in the post. Don't wait, when he catches the ball in the post, make a move right away going to the basket. He has been very effective when doing so and does not give the defense time to set up of double.
Secondary Stats-Really need to be primary stats tonight. The Jazz can not turn the ball over the way they have in the first 2 games. Luckily for the Jazz, Houston has been equally terrible in that department with 21 TO a game. Secondly the Jazz have to be better on the free-throw line. They are shooting 64.9% from the line. They need to been in the 75% range minimum to take advantage of the number of times that they get to the line. Also the Jazz had just one block shot last night against the Suns and that came from Ian Clarke! I think they really had 2 but they did not give Gordon the block on the PJ Tucker dunk attempt last night. Kanter, Favors, Gobert all need to be more active at the rim tonight. The Jazz will need to be equally effective at moving the ball as a team and pilling up assists. As a team the Jazz are averaging just under 23 assists.
Should be a good test for this young Jazz squad that has battled hard the first two games of the season and been right there at the end. I think that is exactly what the front office and Jazz fans really like to see as this team develops. GO Jazz!