Three Thoughts on the Utah Jazz’s 134-124 loss to the Portland Trail Blazers From Salt Lake Tribune Beat writer Andy Larsen.
1. Damian Lillard Night of 60 points
At a certain point, it’s just revealing if you allow a player to have the most efficient 60 point game of all time.
Yes, that’s what Damian Lillard’s game was. He Scored 60 points shooting 21-29 from field and 9-15 from the 3-point line.
Watch This highlight reel will help you to think about the Jazz could have done at a higher level — and think about the personnel that could have helped.
• That first play of the reel — what in the world is Malik Beasley What can you do to help the transition process? He’s just kind of aimlessly dropping into the paint, when we all know that Lauri Markkanen You can handle Josh Hart Transition. Guard Someone else.
• At The 1 minute mark: Walker Kessler showing his weakness — getting up in pick and roll. It The key focus of the Kyrie Irving game and the Jazz Simply ask him to be more confident in those plays. This It is Damian Lillard, he’s going to take pull-up threes, and Kessler can’t be 10 feet away from him. (Kessler simply isn’t ready at the 1:30 mark and gets beaten, too.)
• Jarred Vanderbilt just isn’t much of an impactful defender, either in help defense or one-on-one. At 1.45 he arrives too late even though he must be aware Lillard That is the situation. At 1:50, he is stepped-backed At 2:22, he is blown past for a layup. This simply can’t be your best perimeter defender if you’re a contending team.
There There are other plays. The truth is, however, that the. Conley/Clarkson/Sexton backcourt trio isn’t able to make much of an impact on star guards defensively, whether it’s 48 points from Kyrie Irving 60 points Damian Lillard. That Must be Danny Ainge’s priority when it comes to finding the next pieces of this team: find complementary guards that can defend the league’s best.
To You must tip your cap at some point, but be certain Lillard It was spectacular tonight. But It would have been more limited if there were good defenders. Jazz For many seasons, I’ve been lacking this luxury.
2. Lauri MarkkanenIt is dangerous to get too close
But Zoom in on a single part of the Jazz’s core for closer defensive inspection: Lauri Markkanen.
What Markkanen This season was truly amazing. He had another solid game tonight, scoring 24 points on 7-16 shooting and 0 turnovers. Great. He This was not the problem.
But He is the most important and long-lasting building block in this. Jazz franchise. And so his skillset, his strengths and his weaknesses, simply matters more than everyone else’s — in short, it could define whether or not the Jazz Win in a playoff series later on.
And so I have to note that he’s shown some defensive weaknesses he has to clean up.
Take The defense is at the 1:05 mark in the highlight reel. Markkanen Simply looks flat-footed. Or At 1:45 Markkanen Get toasty with a very simple crossover The defense at 2:57 is better, but he still gets bested even as he’s at the point of the double-team.
At The highest level Markkanen he will need to be more effective in such situations or he will be exploited by teams. They’ll bring him up into the defensive play and force a switch, and have a fast guard cook him.
In general, Hardy’s said that Markkanen Sometimes you may be too close to the opposition, even when you are protecting them from within the perimeter. And I understand why he did that tonight — Lillard He is a famous out-of-this world shooter! He must be very close. But Whatever Markkanen’s strategy, even if it involves fouling, he simply can’t let players drive by him as quickly as they did tonight.
This doesn’t make Markkanen a bad defender. I think he’s shown enough in help situations, especially, to be considered an above-average one. He’s also much better against wings, rather than the best guards in the league. But in the end, the containment factor, even on the league’s best guards, just has to be better.
3. Cory Jez And Trail Blazers Broadcasts
Look, I’m extremely biased in this situation.
I’m an analytics geek, a math major. I think it’s extremely interesting how the NBA (and heck, all of sports) has changed as a result of the statistical revolution. Moneyball It was a magnificent opus.
But even when I take those biases into account, I think it’s pretty neat what Portland Has done with Cory Jez. Jez Was the Jazz’s director of basketball analytics from 2017-2020, before he went to MLS’s Austin FC is a good choice for a similar job.
NowThe Blazers Have him take the “NBA’s first full-time on-air statistical analyst” — essentially, he chimes in like a sideline reporter, adding color and commentary about something the Blazers are doing well or poorly statistically that’s impacting the score of the game.
Having A variety of videos were viewed. Blazers These stats may not be obvious for all games, but they are sometimes quite clear. Sometimes, he’s answering a question posed to him by the team’s play-by-play (Kevin Calabro) or color commentator (Lamar Hurd). A lot of the time, though, he’s presenting new, interesting, and timely data that should interest fans in the here and now — I consider it to be more insightful and objective than a lot of other third-person-in-booth situations. (They You still have a traditional sideline journalist, by the way. Brooke Olzendam.)
In general, actually, I think it’s pretty interesting what the Blazers They have accomplished with their broadcasts. Calabro They are fantastic, and a big name to get who first became well-known with the Seattle Supersonics. Hurd His first job was as a college basketball analyst. He has received fantastic reviews. Blazer fans. They hired SportsCenter’s Neil Everett Many of their pre-, halftime and postgame shows were hosted by me.
To be clear, I don’t mean this section to be a slight to anyone on Jazz broadcasts. But That’s a compliment. Portland tries to find creative ways to increase their broadcast such as Jez, and I think they’ve done a good job in doing so. I hope they will continue to do so under the Jazz’s new TV deal, they’re able to do the same.
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