Jazz Have A Failure To Communicate
SALT LAKE CITY, Utah – The Utah Jazz have lost six of their last eight games. Their two wins came over the Memphis Grizzlies, who at 7-16, are tied for the sixth-worst record in the NBA. In the first of the two wins, the Jazz were down by 15 at half-time and needed a furious comeback to win the game. In the other, the Grizzlies were playing without their star rookie Ja Morant, fellow first-rounder Brandon Clarke, and veteran Kyle Anderson.
Their two wins before that? They came against the New Orleans Pelicans and Golden State Warriors, the two teams in the Western Conference with worse records than the Grizzlies.
In other words, the Jazz haven’t had a win over a competitive team in nearly three weeks, while suffering five blowout losses in 11 games.
It’s a stretch thats dropped the Jazz from the top half of the Western Conference to fighting to stay relevant in the playoff picture. Trailing the Houston Rockets by 2.5 games in the Western Conference standings, the Jazz are as close to being outside of the playoff standings all together as they are catching the team just one spot in front of them.
While it’s easy to look at slow starts from Mike Conley and Joe Ingles as the main culprit, or a bench unit that can’t score for long stretches of the game. The Jazz themselves seem to know what the problem is.
What the Jazz have is a failure to communicate.
“I think we’ve just got to stick together, and there’s got to be communication,” Jazz center Rudy Gobert said after the Jazz most recent loss, “We’ve got to be honest with one another and even if it’s hard, even if sometimes it’s a little harsh I think that’s the only way to move forward.”
In the locker room Monday night, Gobert wasn’t the only player to point to communication as the key element missing from the Jazz winning equation.
“We’ve been saying the same thing for a week and a half. Just gotta have a tougher mindset, find ways to communicate, when we don’t hit shots we can’t let it affect our defense” Jazz guard Donovan Mitchell said.
“A lot of its on me, a lot of its just to find guys that are open, lead guys on the offensive end, talk, communicate, I take a lot of this on myself.“
During the Jazz recent stretch of games, the lack of communication appears to be hurting the team on both sides of the ball.
Over the last eight games, the Jazz have had four defensive performances that rank among the bottom 18 percent of games by any team in any game this season. The performances represent their four worst defensive outings of the season.
Jazz forward Joe Ingles broke down the lack of communication and how it impacts the team’s defense.
“I think with everything we do with offense and defense,” Ingles said, “I think communication for our team is a big part when we’re out there talking we obviously feel more connected as a group and the confidence because you know someone’s behind you or switching.”
On the offensive side of the ball, a lack of communication has led to a high turnover percentage.
Over the last five games, the Jazz have failed to keep their turn over percentage below 16.3 percent, with every performance falling in the bottom 35 percent of outings by any NBA team this season.
Jazz coach Quin Snyder has seen opposing team’s defensive schemes derail his team’s offensive gameplan.
“Our decision making collectively, thats were we need to come together and help each other on the offensive end,” Snyder said.
Over the last eight games, the Jazz have just two offensive performances that would rank in the top half of offensive outings in the league this year according to cleaningtheglass.com. Those performances came against Milwaukee and Memphis, two nights when the Jazz were unusually hot shooting the ball. The Jazz knocked down a combined 40-59 from the three-point line and still managed to only split the two games in the win column.
But the Jazz know they can’t let shooting alone dictate whether they win or lose games.
“We’ve been saying the same thing for a week and a half,” Mitchell said, “Just got to have a tougher mindset, find ways to communicate when we don’t hit shots we can’t let it affect our defense.”
Gobert, the two-time reigning defensive player of the year cosigned Mitchell’s belief that the team’s offense is impacting them on the defensive end of the floor.
“I think we had some stretches where we moved the ball and it’s almost magical and when we move the ball offensively we play better defense because we’re more connected and when we stop moving the ball and we stop sharing the ball our defense becomes not as good,” Gobert said.
“We have more breakdowns when we don’t communicate as well, we give up transition baskets because we take not as good shots. I think it’s a cycle when we play good defense and we communicate, and offensively we share the ball everything takes care of itself.”
Gobert believes communication is one of the keys to solving the Jazz string of issues. After Monday’s loss, the All-NBA center was asked about how to fix the team’s problems.
“Move the ball, thats a good step, and move it with force. And then defensively, same, communicate and be physical,” Gobert said.
However, despite the Jazz recent struggles, the team understands that the current adversity will lead to bigger gains throughout the season.
“The more we’re out there together,” Ingles said, “The more we’re out there making mistakes together and making good plays together, we’re going to continue to get better.”
The Jazz will look to solve their issues Wednesday as they travel to Minnesota to take on the Timberwolves, exactly three weeks to do the date, and in the same location of their last quality win.