An eye for an eye. A tooth for a tooth. That was the law in Biblical times but in the days of Utah Jazz playoff basketball it is “a big for a big”. Rudy Gobert has been injured for the first three games of the first round matchup against the Los Angeles Clippers. Now star Clipper forward Blake Griffin is out for the rest of the playoffs with a toe injury.
Does this mean the Jazz are a lock to win the series? No. Does it mean nothing? No. Several things have to happen for the Jazz to exploit the Blake Show hiatus:
1. Gobert must return at some point this series: It sounds harsh but the Jazz are just above average defensively when Gobert doesn’t play. In this playoff series the Jazz are giving up an average of 102.33 points per game, the ninth best defensive rating so far of the 16 teams during this NBA playoffs. With the Stifle Tower protecting the paint in the regular season, Jazz opponents only averaged 96.8 points per game which was the fewest allowed by any team in the regular season.
Gobert doesn’t need to be brought out until he’s absolutely needed. The Jazz can definitely win at home in Game 4 if he comes in, gets a few blocks and motivates his team with a few motivational speeches in his famous French accent.
Keep Defensive mindset: The Jazz will be hard pressed to win 3 out of the next 4 games by outpacing the Clippers on offense. The Jazz are cut from a defensive cloth so they shouldn’t try to be the Golden State Warriors on the three point line. They need hustle plays from Joe Ingles and they need the veterans like Joe Johnson, George Hill and Boris Diaw to pace them to some wins.
Hack-a-DJ: The man gave Vivint arena free Chik-Fil-A by missing two straight foul shots in the fourth quarter. Only a 48% free throw shooter like DJ does this. It’s boring but it will give the Jazz some wins. Teams like the Spurs used this strategy to take down teams led by former woeful free throw shooter Shaquille O’Neal. Face it, the Jazz need to play like the third little pig and build on DJ’s bricks.