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Jazz Set Sights On Defense, And The Trade Deadline

Utah Jazz center Rudy Gobert (27) reaches for the ball as the Utah Jazz and the Sacramento Kings play an NBA basketball game at Vivint Smart Home Arena in Salt Lake City on Saturday, Jan. 18, 2020. Jazz won 123-101.

SALT LAKE CITY, Utah – After a string of four straight losses, the Utah Jazz have had three days off to focus on righting a ship that has quickly veered off course. The team’s focus was centered on one side of the ball. 

The defense. 

In their last four outings, the Jazz have allowed point totals of 127, 126, 124, and 106, and have seen their usually stout defensive rating dip to third-worst in the league, giving up more than 120 points per 100 possessions. 

Luckily for the team, there’s confidence within the organization that the defense can be fixed. 

“I think there’s things that different teams require of you defensively,” Coach Quin Snyder said, “Dame [Lillard] is the best example because it’s hard to play him quote-unquote normally and what that does is it puts you in positions defensively that are not the thing that you do every other game.”

Over the last four games, the Jazz have allowed two individual scoring outings of at least 50 points, including their latest loss against Lillard’s Portland Trailblazers. One of the key issues of concern for the Jazz has been their inability to get stops against teams willing to play smaller lineups, spacing the floor at all five positions. 

“I think the way teams have been playing a lot of small ball,” Jazz guard Joe Ingles said, “And with that different kind of style it’s been nice for us to get out here and just work on some things that are hard to work on just by watching film.” 

The Jazz have also struggled to contain players in isolation situations. Over the last five games, the team has had stretches where they’ve been unable to stay in front of guards Luka Doncic, Eric Gordon, and Lillard. 

“We need to do a better job containing the ball,” Snyder said, “Containing the ball is both in transition, it’s on the player who’s dribbling the ball in the pick and roll- it’s on a live dribble if it’s just straight isolation. If you don’t play a team that plays isolation a lot you don’t work on isolation.” 

Ingles echoed Snyder’s sentiments in the difficulty of preparing for opposing offenses that play a heavier isolation style of basketball.

“Obviously we don’t have Dame at practice or whatever, but just having that idea and playing five on five and being able to work on different coverages, and just getting back to what we do as well.”

Jazz Notes Trade Deadline Primer

Ben Anderson and Sarah Todd from the Jazz Notes Podcast sat down to discuss the NBA trade deadline, including potential targets for the Jazz.

In an article for the Deseret News, Todd mentioned Markieff Morris, Jakob Poeltl, Frank Kaminsky, Dario Saric, and Chris Boucher as big men that are available, and could fit with the Jazz.

The NBA Trade Deadline

The NBA trade deadline is Thursday and while the Jazz don’t seem heavily involved in the current rumor mill, the coaches are players are well aware of the chatter around the league. 

“Obviously the trade deadline is a time you pay attention to roster movement,” Snyder said, “But thats usually something that I’m able to meet with and discuss with Dennis [Lindsey] and Justin [Zanik] and our staff to the extent that thats applicable to when looking at situations.

Even if the Jazz stand pat at the deadline, they’re aware of they’re still responsible for tracking the moves of opposing organizations.

“When you have roster movement around the league that impacts you as well,” Snyder said of Thursday’s deadline, “So indirectly, tangentially you’re aware of it.”

The twice reigning Defensive Player of the Year Rudy Gobert admitted that the team was aware of the rumors last season involving Ricky Rubio and Mike Conley, this year hasn’t been as tumultuous. 

“It’s always that time of the year when there’s a lot of rumors and stuff,” Gobert mentioned, “I don’t feel like we’re very concerned about this year, with the other teams, it’s part of being an NBA player, we understand that anybody could be traded any time. It’s part of the business.“

While NBA fans will have their phones close at hand to get the latest breaking trade news from ESPN’s Adrian Wojnarowski, Snyder won’t be participating.

“No disrespect, I don’t have a twitter account,” Snyder said, “I’m not checking that. Maybe I should get one.” 

When pressed on how Snyder’s gets his news updates, he’s got a closer source. 

“My seven-year-old usually keeps me informed.” 

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