WarriorsWorld is providing an unbiased series of posts while watching and reporting on Jarrett Jack, and only Jarrett Jack, on both ends of the floor for the entire Western Conference Semifinals. This installment covers Game 2 in San Antonio.
Writing these “Watches” sometimes causes me to get a little defensive about the guys I’m watching. My goal is to be completely unbiased while evaluating the player’s play in each game. But with a Love/Hate player like Jarrett Jack, emotions sometimes creep in. He gets a lot of criticism, sometimes justifiably so, but we shouldn’t forget that Jack is a very good basketball player. He carried the Warriors to a number of key victories during the season – especially through a critical stretch early on.
At that time, I admired the way Jack played; so much so that I wrote this article labeling him Phife to Steph Curry’s Q-Tip. He was playing the best ball of his career at the beginning of his Warriors stint. He has since come back to reality and all the “Love” has shifted into the “Hate” zone. With arguably his worst run of games coming in the playoffs, things have gotten quite ugly between the fans and Jack.
But the fan/Jack communication flows only one way. Jack doesn’t care what anyone outside the team circle thinks. He is the player he is because of his confidence; his inability to let his own bad play faze him. He hits some amazingly difficult clutch shots because of this. He misses those same shots just as often.
For someone who doesn’t care what his detractors say, Jack cares a lot about his teammates. His presence in the locker room has been a major influence on the team. He’s a veteran leader who appointed Curry as “The Man” from day 1. While he can sometimes be a one-man ball-stopping show on the court, he’s the opposite of Monta Ellis off the court.
It would be nice to get the “Low End Theory” Phife back. Recently Jack has been more like the Phife who can’t stop bickering with Q-Tip as A Tribe Called Quest was dismantling.
Game 2 versus the Spurs was a nice step in the right direction. For the first time I can remember, Jackson limited Jack’s minutes. He finished with 22, his lowest total since a 1-of-9 shooting performance against Boston on March 1. As a result, Jack also reduced his shots, going 4-of-7 with 8 points and 4 assists. He had three turnovers, but one may have been Curry’s fault for moving as Jack passed it. Another came in the final seconds with the game over and Jack running out the clock, getting fouled, but rightfully not getting the call from the ref.
But look at the summary below and what Jack did in the fourth quarter. It’s impossible to say for sure, but without him, the Warriors may have given up another huge lead in the fourth quarter. He hit several big shots and made several key passes to keep San Antonio at bay. Here’s the quarterly breakdown.
Checks in for Curry (2 fouls) with 3:04 left in the quarter and the Warriors leading 23-18. He has a solid 3-minute run, twice driving into the lane and kicking it out to an open 3-point shooter (Barnes and Draymond). But each missed the open look. Draymond’s miss came with the Warriors up 28-20 and led to a 3-point play for Tim Duncan on the Spurs’ last possession, ending the quarter with the Warriors up 28-23.
Note: The Warriors grabbed an offensive rebound and got it to Jack with 45 seconds left on the clock. All season Mark Jackson has been smart about going 2-for-1 and getting a quick shot there so they had enough time to end the quarter with the ball. But Jackson was yelling directions at Jack to set up a play and run the clock. Jack then directed the offense and it led to the missed Draymond three and a shot-clock violation.
It turned out to be the wrong call, but the blame goes to Jackson, not Jack, for not going 2-for-1.
Jack’s solid play continues into the second quarter.
On the first possession, he receives a pass in the corner, fakes a three on Splitter, drives in and finds an open Landry under the basket for the easy two. 30-23.
He keeps the passing up, but this time throws it away as he drives under the basket and fires a one-handed pass to Curry. As Curry moves along the 3-point line, Jack’s pass sails left and out of bounds. Curry pats his chest and takes the blame for moving. But either way, it was a tough pass that Jack tried to force and Curry was guarded well by Corey Joseph. Still, give Jack credit for going to the drive and kick to get others involved.
Up 33-27, Jack plays excellent defense on Neal, who has to force a bad shot as the shot clock runs down. This leads to a made Curry jumper in transition.
Parker leads a 1-on-2 break with Curry and Jack back. With Curry on Parker, Jack leaves to cover the trailing Neal. Parker blows by Curry for the easy layup. Hard to fault Jack. If he stays on Parker, he leaves Neal wide open for a potential drive-and-kick three.
Jack is guarding Leonard, who uses his size to grab an offensive rebound over Jack, then beats him on a post up. Landry is forced to foul Leonard, who misses both free throws.
Later, Jack and Landry both block out well and Landry grabs the defensive rebound, kicks to Jack in transition who quickly finds an open Klay for a three. It’s good. 42-31 with 8:08 left in the half.
The Spurs go on a 7-0 that ends when Parker hits two free throws after blowing by Jack in transition and getting fouled by Ezeli. Jack seems to acknowledge his defensive mistake by taking Parker into the lane and hitting a tough pull-up jumper over him. He’s replaced by Barnes at the 5:55 mark with the Warriors up 46-38.
He checks in for Curry with 44 seconds left and the score 59-43. He grabs a nice defensive rebound in traffic and dribbles beyond halfcourt to call a timeout. This leads to a nice set play and Klay hits a three to give the Warriors a 62-43 halftime lead.
Summary: Excellent quarter for Jack. His only negatives were getting beat on defense two times and making a questionable pass to Curry that resulted in a turnover. He had a nice defensive stop as well as two smart passes that led to five points. He also ended a key Spurs run with a tough jumper.
Jack doesn’t check in until the 4:06 mark of the third with the Warriors leading 75-56. Curry comes out.
It’s a tumultuous run in a short amount of time for Jack. It begins badly as Leonard dunks over him in transition. Jack actually played it well, getting his hand near the ball before Leonard switched hands for the lefty dunk. Then Parker hits a tough layup over Jack in transition – good defense, better shot.
The Spurs run reaches six as Jack forces a drive at the top of the key that Manu saw coming from a mile away. Manu reaches in and steals it to go in for an easy layup. All of a sudden it’s 75-62. Next, Jack gets the ball with five seconds on the shot clock and misses badly on a 3-point attempt. Bad possession by the whole team.
Curry checks back in for Landry. The Spurs cut it to 10 and start fouling Bogut. It’s 77-70 when Jack ends the run in typical Love/Hate Jack fashion. He dribbles behind his back at the top of the key and nearly loses the ball off his leg. He recovers and hits a difficult 16-foot jumper as Warriors fans screamed, “Noo!!!! ….Yesss!!!!”
He grabs a strong defensive rebound on the Spurs last possession, dribbles, dribbles, dribbles. Drives the lane and Manu nearly grabs it away from him. But Jack holds onto the ball, jumps into the air with nowhere to go. And just as he’s about to hit the ground, fires a one-handed off-target pass to Klay, who slides over to grab it and hits a three at the buzzer.
Jarrett Jack everyone.
83-72 to end the quarter.
Jack is on the court to open the fourth. Curry is running point. Jack plays great defense on a driving Parker, forcing a missed shot that leads to a Parker/Curry jump ball that Curry wins.
He quickly checks out as Barnes comes in at the 10:49 mark. The Spurs then cut the 11-point lead to eight and Jack checks back in with 8:05 left and the score 86-78.
Jack steps up as the Spurs threaten to close the gap like they did in Game 1. First he drives in the lane and kicks the ball to an open Draymond who hits the three. 91-82. He does the same thing for Barnes on the next possession, but Barnes misses the wide-open three.
Up seven, the Warriors isolate Jack on Parker. His tough fade-away baseline jumper goes in. 93-84. The Spurs score and Jack isolates on Parker again. This time he swishes a smooth wing jumper over Parker. 95-86. 4:38 to go.
Manu hits a three. Down to six. Jack is iso’d on Parker again. He doesn’t force a shot. He drives and gets underneath the basket before kicking it out to Curry. As the defense scrambles, Curry gets in the lane for a sweeping finger-roll banker.
Up eight with 2:59 left, Jack checks out for a defensive rotation as Draymond comes in. He checks in a minute later as the Warriors close out the win.
Summary: Excellent fourth quarter for Jack as he hits several big shots and makes key passes to help the Warriors hold off a Spurs run.