Wednesday, December 4, 2013
Jazz look to keep PACE tonight at ESA...
The Utah Jazz take on the leagues best team, the Indiana Pacers tonight at Energy Solutions Arena. Jazz are riding an unexpected 2 game winning streak and the Pacers are coming of a loss to the hottest team in the league the Portland Trailblazers. Tonight's game is going to test the young Jazz toughness. They will have to come prepared to battle this team all night. The match-up of the night will be early MVP canidate Paul George versus Gordon Hayward. In the off-season, Jazz fans were upset with the Pacers for signing Paul George to a max deal. To be honest, I thought that deal was a mistake and felt like it hurt the Jazz opportunity to resign Hayward. Now we can see why Indiana paid George what they did. Lets take a look at tonight's match-up.....
Defensively- The Jazz defense the last 2 games has been better. They seem to have made a philosophy change and seem to be switching everything on defense for the most part. It seems to be working. This will be a different test for the Jazz tonight. Indiana is an "old school" hard nosed team that plays inside out. The offense will start in the paint with Roy Hibbert and David West. I think Favors matches up favorably to Hibbert, should be able to play position defense and bother some of his shots. Favors will have to do his work early and push Hibbert off the block as best as he can. David West has always been a Jazz killer. He always torched both Boozer and Milsap. Tonight match-up plays in his favor. Marvin does not have the size or strength to battle West. The Jazz will have to double hard on West. Look for whoever is guarding Lance Stephenson to be the double man. Stephenson is not a good shooter and he is the guy that you would want to leave open. For the Jazz to have a chance, they will need to bring their "hard hats" tonight.
Offensively- I think the only advantage the Jazz may have here is in transition. They will need to run to be successful tonight. And that means our bigs need to beat their bigs down the floor. While West may have the advantage on Marvin, he still has to guard Marvin outside. Marvin will help spread the floor and can also beat West off the dribble. Trey Burke will be challenged offensively as he is going up against a bigger solid defender in George Hill. Look for Trey to put Hibbert and Hill in the pick and roll and use his speed. I am not sure that Hibbert can defend in the pick and roll, so Indiana may switch a lot, which may cause some confusion and breakdowns. The Jazz can take advantage of this by making good off ball cuts and motion. Gordon looked like he came out of his shooting slump a bit last game. He was extremely effective early, being aggressive and putting the pressure on Harden. Paul George is a different story. He is an elite defender and is very long. I think Gordon will come out feeling like he has something to prove. This is a bit of a "double edged sword". Gordon will need to play within the context of the offense as he did against the Rockets. If he presses and tries to do too much, he will end up turning the ball over.
Tonight's game will show what kind of toughness and fight the Jazz have gained over the last week or so. I have been pleased with the progress of both the team and the staff. They both have made strides in areas they were suffering previously. Ty is making some good time out decision and substitutions have been solid. The Jazz have also shown more fight and toughness, not backing down from anyone. I have also enjoyed the poise this team has developed over this 2 game win streak. Both games had a chance to go either way and the Jazz were able to execute and not get lost in the moment. Development! That's what its all about.....GO JAZZ!