Tuesday, November 5, 2013

Welcome to Brooklyn, Jazz take on Nets tonight.

  First game of a 4 game road trip for the Utah Jazz kicks off in Brooklyn tonight versus the 1-2 Nets.  This is the kind of opportunity this team needs to come together and gel.  Its not an easy trip by any stretch of the imagination, with the likes of the Nets, Celtics, Bulls and Raptors on this trip.  The Jazz have started the season 0-3 and could easily be 3-0.  They were in every game and lost the first 2 by a total of 6 points.  Lets take a look at the keys to tonight's game....

Defensively-Brooklyn has a lot of star power.....Star power with "old man game" that is.  Kevin Garnett and Paul Pierce are clearly on the down side of their careers as is Brooklyn's 6th man Jason Terry.  That does not mean that Jazz can take any of these players lightly.  Garnett is probably the king of "bully ball" and will try to get in the head of Kanter and Favors.  The young bigs are going to have to keep their emotions in check and tune him out as best as possible.  Garnett will not beat you in the post at this point in his career.  He is a solid pick and pop player that the Jazz will need to rotate to.  Paul Pierce will still look to use his strength and back down the likes of Jefferson and Hayward.  He is also a player that can not be left open.  If he gets hot, it could be a long night.  We have just talked about two good players and haven't even discussed Deron Williams. Joe Johnson or arguably Brooklyn's best player, Brook Lopez.  Deron is still battling through an ankle injury suffered prior to training camp.  Joe Johnson for the Nets, can create some real mismatch problems.  In the past he has been a Jazz killer.  He is a player that can play with his back to the basket some but his strength is, he can flat out shoot it.  The Jazz will need to run him off the 3pt line and make him shoot the "no mans land" long 2pt shots.  Lastly is Lopez.  He is a very skilled big man that like to play in the post, back to the basket, traditional big man style.  Kanter and Favors have had some serious match-ups already this season and have done more than hold their own.  Look for Lopez to use a variety of pump fakes to get either player off their feet.  Lopez is not a particularly strong rebounder and does not run the floor well, two things the Jazz will need to take advantage of.

Offensively-The Jazz offensively this season have been a roller coaster.  As long as the team is moving the ball and getting assists, they seem to take care of business.  They also do a great job running the floor.  The thing that has made them successful in running the floor, is the bigs getting out and running and putting pressure on the other teams transition defense.  The first half of the Houston game the Jazz ran Asik and Howard a lot.  That all changed in the second half.  Not sure if it was effort or if they were tired coming off a back to back, but the Jazz need the bigs to run and push the full 48.  Look for the Jazz to run more of the lineup of Burks, Hayward, Jefferson, Kanter and Favors.  This was an effective lineup and helped Hayward out the most by not having to have him handle the ball and create for himself and the team.  Jefferson also helps this lineup out as he has done a good job spreading the floor and knocking down 3's.  Lastly, at the end of the game, if close, look for this line up.  I would like to see the Jazz run the same sets with the ball in Burks hands rather than Gordon's.  Burks is a better creator with the ball in his hands, and Gordon is really a better shooter and spot up shooter than Burks.  It really plays in to both players strengths.  The Jazz will need to attack the basket all night as Brooklyn's only shot blockers are Lopez and AK.

Intangibles-The Jazz did a much better job against the Rockets not turning the ball over and were much better at the free-throw line.  These will be the first 2 keys for every road game on this trip.  The Jazz will also need to maintain energy for a full 48.  Against the Rockets, with just better than 5 minutes left, Chandler Parson caught the ball at the top of the key straight away, Gordon made a poor close out and Parson went right by him.  The rotation was solid from Burks how stopped the drive, but Parson kicked the ball to Lin who knocked down a wide open 3. There was no "help the helper" and that put Houston up 2 and was the beginning of the end for the Jazz.  Rotations will need to be solid, closeouts strong and players trying to make plays defensively.

  This will be another entertaining game to watch.  The "Old Men" on the block versus the Jazz youth movement.  If the Jazz can push tempo, share the ball and have solid rotations they will have a chance to win this game.  Brooklyn is trying to find their chemistry as well and the Jazz may have caught them at a good time as they have started the season 1-2.  Time to come together for this young team and get a statement win.  GO JAZZ!

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