Inside the Scope: Golden State Warriors (18-10) at Utah Jazz (15-14)
- Tip Off: 6:00 p.m. (PT)
- Television: CSN-BA
Utah Jazz Team Profile
- Offensive Efficiency: 103.7 (10th in NBA)
- Defensive Efficiency: 104.4 (24th in NBA)
- Points: Al Jefferson, 16.3 PPG
- Rebounds: Al Jefferson, 10.2 RPG
- Assists: Mo Williams, 6.7 APG
- Steals: Paul Millsap, 1.1 SPG
- Blocks: Derrick Favors, 1.7 BPG
- Field Goal Percentage: Enes Kanter, 53.8% FG
- 3-Point Field Goal Pecentage: Randy Foye, 40.4% 3PT FG
Scope the Opposition: Salt City Hoops.
Preview: After getting a split with victories at Brooklyn and Orlando on their four-game eastern road trip, the Utah Jazz will be back at home for a pair of home games with the first one starting tonight against a Golden State Warriors team that just recently lost an overtime thriller at Oracle Arena this past Saturday.
The game against the purple and gold provided a lot of fireworks and gave fans a look at the amount of firepower available on the roster and what it could potentially accomplish against the rest of the league.
As it pertains to the matchup tonight, far it be for me to resort to oversimplifying things, but it seems awfully appropriate in the context of tonight’s game.
The Warriors and Jazz’s battle may very well come down to which tandem performs best: Al Jefferson and Paul Millsap versus David Lee and Carl Landry.
The Jazz pair starts games together and play the majority of their minutes alongside one another, and yet they seem to underwhelm opponents for the most part.
Al Jefferson has been a solid post up option for most of his career but this season hasn’t been his best on this front. Synergy Sports tells us that 45.4 percent of his field goal attempts this season have come out of post ups, but he is only converting 38.4 percent of his shots in these situations, which is less than stellar.
Paul Millsap has had the same issues in the post this season, mind you his game offers a little more diversity since he can put the ball on the floor to get by defenders and he has an adequate jump shot to stretch out the defense. This season hasn’t been his best in terms of stretch the court though as his field goal percentage from 16-to-23 feet has plummeted every year for the past three seasons per Hoopdata. Indeed, Millsap is only converting 35 percent of his long 2-point shots.
Consequently, when the tandem is paired up together, the Utah Jazz produce 98.1 points per 48 minutes on 45.7 percent field goal shooting according to NBA.com’s advances stats tool. Those figures aren’t great, but they aren’t bad either, hence it stands to reason that the two-man group should thrive on some level provided that they aren’t a train wreck defensively.
The problem as some of you might have guessed in actuality is that the Jazz starting big men just don’t cut it defensively. NBA.com’s advance stats tool tells us that Utah surrenders 101.4 points per 48 minutes on 47.2 percent field goal shooting when both share the court. Yes, Jefferson and Millsap yield more points than they produce and the twosome has played the most minutes together than any other Jazz two-man unit so far this season. Ouch.
When we look at the Warriors big men though, their minutes aren’t exclusively tied together because of their defensive shortcomings. Nonetheless, Lee and Landry complement each other beautifully on offense as they typically alternate their positions on the court. One will usually occupy the low block while the other spaces the floor from the weak side or the high post, which makes the Dubs incredibly difficult to defend.
David Lee has been a terror on the low block with his right and left-handed hook shots, which have helped him convert 51.3 percent of his shots in post ups situations per Synergy Sports. Also, for good measure he is making 48.5 percent of his spot up jumpers so far this season.
Not one to be outdone, Carl Landry is right on the heels of the Florida product, as he converts 47.7 percent of his post up field goal attempts and 73.3 percent of his spot up jumpers according to Synergy Sports.
Put both on the floor together, and the Warriors are scoring 109.1 points per 48 minutes on 49.6 percent field goal shooting according to NBA.com’s advanced stats tool. Those are great offensive numbers but the size of both Lee and Landry make it difficult for them to get by defensively since one of them has to play center and thwart opponents when they come into the paint; which neither are good at.
With that said, Golden State has been able to survive with this unit defensively for the most part by virtue of their scorching offensive production; but also because they’ve been able to get the occasional stops here and there and then clean up the misses on the backboards. NBA.com tells us that group surrenders 101.4 points per 48 minutes on 45.1 percent field goal shooting, which is a little more than their customary regular season figures of 98.7 points allowed per game on 43.4 percent field goal shooting; but the rebounding numbers are actually identical (difference of 0.7 rebounds per game).
Hence, when the Jazz and Warriors face off tonight, pay close attention when the bigs face off against each other. So far this season, the Dubs’ pair has complimented one another quite well, and this leads to a fairly shocking conclusion: they might just be better than Utah’s combo.
Statistical support provided by NBA.com.