The Clippers and Utah are a study in stylistic contrast. To fully understand this, let’s perform a biopsy on Saturday night’s game:
- The Jazz ran 16 sets in which cuts resulted in shot attempts; the Clippers ran 3. In the first quarter, alone, the Jazz were 3-3 on those possessions — a fade from Ronnie Price to start the game, a flash cut from Boozer, then a nifty little curl by Ronnie Brewer. The Jazz generated 18 shots off screens — the Clippers only 8.
- The Clippers prefer post-ups. They ran 18 to Utah’s 11. The Clips ran seven for Chris Kaman, five for Tim Thomas, and four for Cat Mobley. The sad number: Kaman’s seven attempts resulted in only five points.
- How about isolations? The Clippers created 14 shots for themselves in iso situations. The Jazz relied on only 6 for the entire game. As a disclaimer, I don’t think there’s anything wrong with isolation sets. All this is meant to convey is that the Jazz have very few guys on their roster who excel in isolation — but that doesn’t prevent them from winning lots of basketball games.
- One other curiosity: The Clippers took 18 shots with fewer than :04 remaining on the shot clock. The Jazz took 12.
Plenty of teams excel by relying on the same offensive patterns the Clippers use. A couple hours before the Clips game in Salt Lake, Atlanta beat Philadelphia — despite the fact that the Sixers generated far more of their offense off cuts and in transition, while the Hawks relied on more basic iso and high S/Rs.
Creativity, in and of itself, isn’t virtuous. But acquiring players who conform to an offensive philosophy — be it the Lakers, Utah, Detroit, Boston, Golden State, or Mike D’Antoni’s erstwhile Phoenix Suns — does make sense. To that point, it’s unclear what kind of offense will best serve the Clippers, because their current roster doesn’t lend itself to a definite offensive style.