Los Angeles Clippers vs. Utah Jazz
7:30 p.m. PST
December 29, 2014
FOX Prime Ticket
Video of the Day
The player that Blake Griffin is most-often compared to is…
1. Why are Gordon Hayward’s numbers so improved this year?
Andy Larsen, Salt Lake City Hoops, (@andyblarsen): Whereas much of the improvement in offense has been due to Quin Snyder’s new, more modern system, Hayward’s progress is largely due to strides he made in the offseason. He got significantly bigger, something you see as he bounces off opponents to finish in the paint, and he worked on overall skills before and during his time with USA Basketball.
Jovan Buha, (@jovanbuha): There are several reasons. Hayward has gotten better every year, so a boost in numbers isn’t a surprise. New head coach Quin Synder has also installed a new offense with Spursian principles, taking some of the offensive burden off Hayward’s shoulders and making him more efficient. Lastly, his teammates have all improved, too, which has led to better overall stats.
Andy Liu, (@AndyKHLiu): Quin Snyder implemented an offense where the sole focus is to move the ball and find open shots. It sounds simple and obvious now but ex-coach Tyrone Corbin put way too much on Hayward’s plate as the primary ball-handler last season and it showed.
2. What’s the key weakness on the Jazz for the Clippers to exploit?
Larsen: Pick-and-roll defense, especially with regards to Trey Burke and Enes Kanter. If the Clippers want to succeed, all they have to do is put whoever Trey and Enes are guarding in a pick and roll situation. Trey will probably die on the screen, Enes probably won’t help well enough, and you’ll have rotations that will get you an open shot. Simple.
Buha: The Jazz simply cannot shoot—they rank 24th in three-point field goals per game and 25th in three-point percentage. With Alec Burks out tonight, another competent shooter is missing. Outside of Hayward and Burks, there are no above-average, or even close to average, shooters in the rotation. The Clips can pack the paint, crash the glass and focus on Hayward.
Liu: The Jazz can’t shoot. Trey Burke and Alec Burks are struggling mightily. The defense can focus mostly on Hayward if they can keep the Jazz guards out of the lane just enough. Their experiment with Trevor Booker as a stretch-four had good intentions but just isn’t working. The Jazz have a decent scheme, but the Clippers can shut them down on defense.
3. Blake Griffin is averaging 6.7 assists per game over his nine eight. Is this a passing hot streak or something sustainable?
Larsen: I don’t think Griffin is a Noah type player, someone who will lead his team in assists double-digit times over the course of a season. But to have the capability to put up that many assists over a long stretch is impressive; maybe he really is turning rapidly into Karl Malone.
Buha: This is a passing hot streak. Nearly seven assists per game is not sustainable; however, five or so is. Over his last nine games, we’ve seen the Blake from last season. He’s been more decisive, faced-up with confidence, and made passes 98 percent of big men can’t make. He’s an amazing passer, and this is just another slice of evidence.
Liu: The numbers might not be sustainable but Griffin is an excellent passer regardless of the numbers. Combined with a superb handle, Griffin should have no problem keeping this up as long as the floor is spaced with J.J. Redick and Chris Paul.