The triple team: Jazz's plan assembles for an excellent defensive game, but the offensive simply can not succeed in pushing the Jazz to a 3-0 deficit


1. This is a winning or missing league

The Jazz played so well Saturday night. They made life exceptionally difficult for James Harden, perhaps the best defensive performance on him all year. They stopped a lot of open shots they had dropped in the first two games. The offense is open through excellent execution and passes.

But, as the saying goes, "it's a decisive or failed league". And the Jazz can not always qualify, which allowed the Rockets to win the decisive victory of the third match.

Many of these shots were three-man turns: the Jazz shot only 4-18, 22%. 18 corner three is more than any team has taken this playoffs in any match, to give you an idea of ​​what a good percentage of shots is. Jazz's average for the season is about 37.5%, which is also the average for the league. The Jazz wins this match if it hits two more corners.


Or, they could have won this game via the line of free throws. While the rest of the match was going well, a bad third quarter missed them eight free throws. Obviously, make half and the Jazz wins the game. If they shoot 74% for the game, their team averages over the year they win.

Heck, you can even do that with 4-14 foot shots: Jazz only made one of the eight. 12.5%. This will not shock you, but generally, NBA teams do more than that.

My feeling too was that more than three were more open than usual. The NBA tracking numbers have not been released yet, but I will be watching them closely when they are early Sunday. But after the Jazz shot 7-32 on open shots in Game 2, it looked like a similar story in the third game.

There are obviously things that the Jazz could have done better, there are always some. But for the most part, it is that the shooting did not fall, at the most critical moment of the season. You can emphasize the need to get more out of the lineup, and I think that's fair, but in the end, the Jazz would have won if it could hit the season average.

Do not forget that these same Houston Rockets missed 27 consecutive games in the seventh game of the Western Conference final last year. If anyone knows this pain, it's them. But tonight it was jazz on the other end.

2. Donovan Mitchell's performance increase and late fading

Donovan Mitchell had his best game of the series, scoring 34 points, going to the free throw line when he wanted and limiting his turnaround. The Jazz relied heavily on Mitchell, who played 42 minutes.

Mitchell was fantastic early in the game, starting the game 5-7 away by hitting inside and out. The Rockets started to be more aggressive with him during these successes, but I thought he had done a very good job of adjusting to the fouls and reaching the free-throw line: 17 attempts is an excellent number. Of course, he would have liked to do more than 12.

He forced things late, finishing the match 4-20, but he had one of the best match-match looks you'll ever see here. I like this Quin Snyder piece a lot: basically, he took everyone along the sideline until it was almost certain that there was confusion and misunderstanding in a noisy crowd. Mitchell's eyes were open, but he missed.

Subsequently, Mitchell was rather distraught. Naturally, his teammates supported him on the pitch and after the match. Kyle Korver, after going through his usual post-match scrum, actually asked one last thing. Cameras and microphones came back, and Korver said:

"I've never been to a young player like Donovan Mitchell, I've never seen anyone so young take over a team, own his game." , do it with charisma, do it with class – never seen that since my 16 years NBA.

He missed a tough shot tonight, but that will be part of his story. If you played basketball in the NBA, you have a shot like that. If you do not do this, it means that you have not played in meaningful games or that your teammates or coaches have not trusted you to succeed. I do not care who is in the story, everyone has a chance. This will be part of the story at the end of the day.

Because of who he is, he will do too much, but we missed the free throws, the dunks, the layups, the three missing. It was not about this shot. It was not about this shot. We had a much better chance of winning this match.

But I am very proud of him. He came out and he heard that he had not played as well as he wanted in the first two games and he put everything on his back. For a young man of 21 or whatever, it's really special. He is on a good path in the NBA. At the end of the day, this will only be part of his story, his journey. He'll just keep building on it. "

Korver is great to want to convey this message, and he is right: Mitchell is a unique force. The fact that Korver has "never" rubbed shoulders with a young player like Mitchell in his 16-year career in the NBA speaks volumes.

Mitchell is going to have hatred after this playoff series, especially from outside Utah. But the Jazz is still in a good position overall, and the main reason is all that Mitchell is.

3. Quin Snyder's plan materializes

Snyder's has been criticized for his defensive plan in this series, but it has worked very well tonight. I know the Jazz has lost, and I know that James Harden will not play 3-20 in most games, but dude, have they ever made it hard for the Rockets tonight.

The most important thing was the frequency with which the Jazz performed its rotations. The Jazz frequently forced Harden into Rudy Gobert's arms, which was a problem for Utah. But this time, the Jazz penetrated Clint Capela's body and took the corner off the third minute by letting the defender sink deep.

Look at Harden's options here, he does not have many. This gives Gobert the opportunity to play a game and, well, it's an incredibly difficult block.

The Rockets, because they are good, adjusted. They went to their small-ball alignment with P.J. Tucker, affectionately called "The Tuckwagon" by Rockets fans. (I think it's a good name, to be honest.) But Jazz has adapted. Gobert watched Tucker, but did not always help on the strong side. Instead, Rubio helped the weak side, making Harden's departure even more difficult. This piece worked well for the Rockets, but the Jazz broke the next one and the Rockets did not really bet on the look after that.

It was really impressive on both sides: the excellent defensive performance of the Jazz and the fact that the Rockets won the match anyway. It was not a Jazz victory, so obviously they were devastated after the match. But I agree with Snyder when he said, "I thought it was there and I was proud of the way we played and played, we just did not win. not lucky to have the chance to win the match. "

Now they are facing the edge.

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