Three Thoughts on the Utah Jazz’s 131-118 victory over the Salt Lake Tribune Jazz Milwaukee Bucks beat writer Andy Larsen.
The Jazz set a new franchise record with 25 3-point shots tonight out of 53 moves, well eclipsing their previous record of 22.
It’s logic. The Bucks have been the best defensive team in the league over the past two seasons thanks to a strategy that protects the rim at all costs. They have Brook Lopez there to protect the rim and Giannis Antetokounmpo playing it safe, protecting the rim and generally using its length to make a huge impact all over the ground.
But when the Bucks’ defense crumbles, there are 3-point opportunities; they also allowed the most 3-point shots in the league. They get away with it because they’re experts at helping the opposition’s worst 3-pointers, who are reluctant to throw those looks.
The Jazz don’t have bad 3-point shooters. They have Mike Conley and Donovan Mitchell and Bojan Bogdanovic and Royce O’Neale and Jordan Clarkson and Georges Niang, all of whom can take down three openings with ease. So the Bucks don’t have anyone they can slack off from, and that makes Jazz really hard to keep.
But the Jazz have to perform well for that to happen – specifically, how they space the floor in transition and when a teammate is driving. Quin Snyder explained in his post-match press conference – he said, “Our spacing makes all the difference in the world,” then gave three examples of things he still wants to see but doesn’t. haven’t always seen this season:
• “When we’re not playing pick and roll with our big guys, they’re flat on the baseline.”
• “The wings are not six feet from the corner at the break. They are literally around the corner.
• “The guy in the upper quadrant has to be on top for these passes to be made.”
When the Jazz are lethargic, or when they turn the ball a lot, very often the spacing is a silent killer. But when the Jazz are successful, they are much more difficult to keep.
Or as Snyder summed it up, “The precision of our spacing allows us to be more precise with our passes. And I think you saw that tonight.
For the first time since Derrick Favors returned to Jazz, we had some meaningful and meaningful minutes with Favors and Rudy Gobert on the floor. It’s like 2016 again!
And just like the years and years that we’ve seen this lineup, we’ve seen two things of it:
• The spacing was pretty rough. Opponents felt fairly comfortable letting Favors send more help to the strong side.
• It was absolutely unlimited defensively.
Especially in the first five minutes of the fourth quarter, the Bucks scored a total of zero points. Keeping your opponent aimless for that long will win you a lot of games, and that turned out to be decisive tonight.
Now, I’ll be honest, after reviewing those five minutes, Gobert and Favors didn’t particularly combiner to create defensive problems for the Bucks. Gobert protected the rim sometimes, and Favors did it other times, but more importantly, the Bucks struggled with bad turnovers and missed a threesome. It was not a multiplier and swarming effect.
That being said, I think this is programming that Jazz will have the opportunity to use a little more. There will be games where it’s 100% unplayable, especially against Stretch 5. But against teams like the Nets and Knicks, I would have been curious to see if the Twin Tower range could have handled the parade better. attempts at rims that we have seen.
I’ve written way too much about Royce O’Neale in the Jazz debut piece. He’s not the primary reason the Jazz win when they win, and it’s not the primary reason they lose when they lose. And yet I also feel a duty to treat a player fairly – if I’m going to criticize him when he plays badly, I have to highlight the nights when he makes a difference.
And man, he was fantastic tonight. He scored 18 points from a 3-point shot alone – six of the eight of three were the only shots he took all night. It’s at a point in his career, actually.
While you love that he did all three, you love that he took them. O’Neale has only shot the ball three to eight or more times in his career twice before tonight. Twice! And yet, he plays a big part in Jazz’s rotation and is certainly open enough to take eight threes on a regular basis; he simply lets open eyes pass. If he takes his photos open, the Jazz will do much better.
Tonight he looked ready to take them, perhaps because Snyder knew what Milwaukee’s defensive strategy would be and had prepared him for the occasion.
But he was also very good on the defensive end – he had three interceptions, one block and was a difference factor for Jazz over Antetokounmpo in the second half (two of those interceptions were from the MVP). Again, he shows his ability to keep bigger players with more ability than quick guards.
Here is an example, where he compared on All-Star Khris Middleton. He pushes the ball away from behind and gets the flight.
Now, does a guard give O’Neale that chance? Middleton is very good, but he’s also going to dribble a lot higher and slower than a guard. A guard will circle that screen and leave O’Neale in the dust, but Middleton leaves an opportunity that O’Neale can take advantage of.
I also want to point out that O’Neale is, by far, the best Royce in NBA history. Indeed, there are only two Royces in the league’s long history, and Royce White only ended up playing three games for the Sacramento Kings.
The Royce name has been making a comeback in recent years, as we see Royce rise through the ranks.
But it’s too early to see another Royce now, and we probably won’t be for another half a decade or so. The only Royce in college basketball right now, Royce Hamm, only plays marginal minutes in Texas.
For now, Royce O’Neale is the Rolls Royce of Royces.