Now the hunted, the Utah Jazz fall to the Miami Heat 124-116

Miami prevails 124-116, thanks to casting multiple different looks at Utah and slowing Utah’s adaptation process, a tactic more opponents are sure to emulate.

Utah Jazz guard Donovan Mitchell (45) goes to the basket as center Rudy Gobert (27) defends Miami Heat center Bam Adebayo, center, during the first half of an NBA basketball game on Friday. February 26, 2021, in Miami. (AP Photo / Lynne Sladky)

“They played different coverages, they played in zone, they covered, they bombed, they changed. They did everything. “

And with that singular postgame statement, Donovan Mitchell not only summed up the Utah Jazz’s main problem in Friday’s 124-116 loss to the Miami Heat, but the main problem opponents are sure to encounter in the future.

As NBA analyst and former assistant coach Steve Jones Jr. noted on social media after a game that left Utah 26-7 on the season, “Multiple coverages are key these days.”

Many different looks have been tried against the Jazz this year in an effort to find a way to somehow slow down both their barrage of record 3s and their ability to attack the paint. Opponents have often resorted to simple change, although Utahns realized that. Some teams are now fully committed to pulling them off the line, only to be ripped apart by dribbling and balloon penetration.

Typically when an opponent unleashes a new look, the Jazz require a bit of playtime to figure it out before eventually acclimating as the game progresses and eventually exploding once they’ve fully figured it out.

According to, the Jazz have outscored their opponents by an average of 2.0 points in the first quarter, but they improve to +2.9 in the second and +4.7 in the third. (The fourth quarter has seen them broke, though that’s mostly because they’ve generally gone up double digits so often that their guys at the bottom of the bench are closing games.)

If you give the Jazz just a defensive look in a game, it will take a little while for them to adjust, but they will eventually exploit it. The Heat were able to seamlessly switch between coverage Friday night, and the Jazz spent the entire game adjusting.

And as a consequence, their execution suffered: 40 of 94 from the field (42.6%) and 15 of 46 from the 3-point band (32.6%). Not to mention management, but 22 points on 7 of 24 shots in the fourth quarter of a rare tight game.

“The way we want to play, we need everyone to be very precise in what they are doing. We need to pass the ball at the right time, we need to pitch when we’re open, we need to be very well spaced, ”said coach Quin Snyder. “Our execution on the offensive side, with all those little things, it wasn’t that good. … Tonight was a situation where we dribbled too long, we didn’t shoot when we should, we didn’t have a good space, a lot of little things that we have to do better. “

Several of Snyder’s players specifically pointed to spacing as the main culprit, how Miami’s ever-changing lineups constantly had the Jazz players in the wrong places.

“Tonight, whether we weren’t running around the corner or sacrificing for each other to get into space, we couldn’t create lanes for the guys to drive and make those extra plays and passes,” said Mike Conley, who had 14 points and seven assists, but he shot just 6 of 15 overall and 2 of 7 from deep. “And it took us out of our rhythm.”

Mitchell, who contributed 30 points and six rebounds but was 11-of-26 and 2-of-9, and had just three assists against five turnovers, took another step.

“The spacing was huge. … There are certain moments when Royce [O’Neale] I’ll drive and I stand there next to him, instead of coming to the corner so he has a lane. Or vice versa. Or am I driving and Rudy [Gobert]is standing there. Or should I hit Rudy on a pass, “Mitchell said. “Little things like that that we don’t do in the game.”

Both Mitchell and Gobert lamented Utah’s lack of transitional offense, rightly noting that improving their meager six fast-break points could have prevented the Heat from establishing such effective defenses: “I don’t think we did much,” Gobert remarked wryly. , “Maybe because we didn’t make many stops.”

Yes, allowing Miami to shoot 59% from the field after halftime practically made transitioning out impossible.

With the Heat so successful against the Jazz on Friday, future opponents are sure to employ a similar strategy.

However, the good news for the Jazz, Conley said, is that there is nothing in those coverage that they have not seen or adapted before. The key now is simply to make those adaptations happen more quickly.

“They changed a lot of our actions, and teams have done it all year long, and we’ve adjusted and made plays on it,” Conley said. “So he gives them credit, but we also have a great deal of control to be able to dictate those situations.”

HEAT 124, JAZZ 116

UTAH (116)

Bogdanovic 5-11 4-4 17, O’Neale 3-8 0-0 8, Gobert 4-7 7-7 15, Conley 6-15 0-0 14, Mitchell 11-26 6-8 30, Favors 3- 3 0-0 6, Niang 0-0 0-0 0, English 4-7 2-2 13, Clarkson 4-17 2-2 13. Totals 40-94 21-23 116.

MIAMI (124)

Butler 12-22 9-11 33, Olynyk 3-8 0-0 8, Adebayo 7-14 5-5 19, Nunn 5-9 0-0 12, Robinson 5-9 1-1 15, Iguodala 2-5 2 -2 8, Okpala 0-2 0-0 0, Dragic 9-15 5-6 26, Vincent 1-2 0-0 3. Totals 44-86 22-25 124.

Utah 30 23 41 22 – 116

Miami 26 31 39 28 – 124

Triple Goals_Utah 15-46 (English 3-5, Bogdanovic 3-7, Clarkson 3-12, O’Neale 2-6, Conley 2-7, Mitchell 2-9), Miami 14-30 (Robinson 4-7, Dragic 3-4, Nunn 2-4, Olynyk 2-4, Iguodala 2-5, Vincent 1-2, Butler 0-3). Foul outside Utah 1 (Bogdanovic), Miami 1 (Olynyk). Rebounds_Utah 36 (Gobert 12), Miami 50 (Adebayo 11). Assists_Utah 24 (Conley 7), Miami 24 (Butler 8). Total Fouls_Utah 21, Miami 21. A_0 (19,600)


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