3 odd things the Jazz can do to win a series against a team of Golden Gods
First off… the playoffs this year are very similar to taking the first Dream Team and make them an NBA team… Is it great television? Sure, if you just love watching games where either the game is over at the half or want to watch a team run away with games in the 4th. Watching Golden State this year is like watching the Chicago Bulls in ‘96. It comes down to if Golden State decides to play a full game, or just hang around hoping to turn it on in the 4th quarter. Chances are very good that the Warriors will win this series in 5 games… Honestly that may be giving Utah undo credit. That said, this is a very good Jazz team that is capable, under some very weird basketball playing, to take this series. Here are the odd things that could help the Jazz make this a series they could possibly steal:
1. Alter the substitution strategy to put Jazz starters against Warrior bench.
The Warriors have a good bench, but they do not win the games. There is no one in the Warriors bench that can stop Gordon Hayward. As good a center as JaVale McGee is, he is not as good as Rudy Gobert. By contrast, the Jazz bench is pretty good defensively. Scoring may be an issue, but the hope is to make that difference up when your stars come in against their bench. Granted… the Warriors could easily swap around as needed and this only really works if somehow the Jazz have more endurance and remain healthy. Perhaps going as far as not starting Gobert, Hill, or Johnson instead bringing them off the bench about 5 minutes into the game. Hayward has to play 42–45 minutes… When you are playing against gods you must make sacrifices. He can play that long if the pace is slow… so:
2. The Warriors love the fast pace, so slow the game down.
They are completely dependent on maximizing the number of possessions to ensure the difference their points per possession and your points per possession is stretched as far as possible. So the trick is to stretch that 24 second clock out as far as possible thus limiting possessions throughout the game so you can stay close at the end. The Jazz are a perfect team for this type of strategy. They play a slow offense anyway (least number of possessions per game in the league). Outside of the last two minutes of each quarter the clock runs after made shots. You have five seconds to inbound the ball, further the shot clock does not start until a player touches the ball once it is in-bounded. So, after a made shot have the in-bounder watch the ref and slowly toss the ball out at about the 3–4 second mark. The receiving player then does not touch the ball until the defense forces it. This can stretch another 4–6 seconds in theory. Now you have added 7–10 seconds per possession, factoring in the Jazz average of 94 possessions a game and opponent FG% of 48.4% you can figure roughly 45 of those possessions come after a made shot… this strategy takes nearly 5min30sec off the clock with the ball out of play. Add this to the slow offense of the Jazz (the least number of possessions per game in the league this year) and you have the makings for an absolutely boring brand of basketball that will keep the game close until the end. IF the Warriors adjust by pressing, or even mock pressing, you have made them expend more energy possibly playing into the strategy in the first point. None of this matters though if you allow additional possessions…
3. This game has always been about one thing… rebounds.
Buckets are one thing… the Warriors are going to get them but we have already discussed how to limit the numbers in unorthodox ways. Assuming any of the other strategies break the Warriors flow enough to keep them from shooting lights out then rebounds are going to be CRUCIAL to any hopes of a Jazz win. The good news… they are one of the best rebounding teams in the league. If you look at Total Rebounding % the Jazz are ranked 5th in the league and the Warriors are 15th. The story gets more interesting when you compare/contrast the Offensive Rebounding %’s (Jazz are 17th, Warriors 18th) and the Defensive Rebounding %’s (Jazz are 3rd, Warriors are 28th!). Looking at those rates (because they factor in possessions which are vastly different between these teams… over the last 10 games it is a 13 possession spread) it appears very plausible that the Jazz could retain their offensive rebounding rate or improve on it, while dominating defensive rebounding as well.
Look… I realize these are unorthodox, weird, ratings killing, and rather unlikely adjustments to make for a chance to win… but, it could work. In my opinion the Jazz are the most likely team to stop the Warriors this year anyway. The chances are not great, but they have the best shot. Maximizing that shot by making the game one that frustrates the Warriors is a worthy consideration regardless of how loudly the fans will yell at you for it.