Jazz Tie Franchise Record For Consecutive Home Wins In Cavaliers Blowout

Mar 29, 2021, 10:18 PM | Updated: 10:48 pm
Mike Conley - Utah Jazz...
Mike Conley #10 of the Utah Jazz controls the ball during a game against the Minnesota Timberwolves at Vivint Smart Home Arena on December 26, 2020 in Salt Lake City, Utah. (Photo by Alex Goodlett/Getty Images)
(Photo by Alex Goodlett/Getty Images)

SALT LAKE CITY, Utah – The Utah Jazz won their sixth consecutive game and 20th consecutive home game with a 114-75 blowout over the Cleveland Cavaliers.

Donovan Mitchell scored a game-high 19 points for the Jazz while Rudy Gobert and Mike Conley added 18 points apiece.

Cleveland’s 75 total points were the low by any Jazz opponent this season, beating the previous mark set by the Detroit Pistons in a Jazz win on January 10. It’s the fewest points the Jazz have allowed in a game since December 4, 2017, when they held the Washington Wizards to just 69 points.

The team’s 39 point margin of victory was their largest in nearly three years, dating back to their 40 point win over the Golden State Warriors on April 10, 2018.

Guards Must Stop Challenging Gobert

NBA guards have to stop challenging Rudy Gobert, especially when they get him in space. It’s become an all too familiar sequence now when teams face the Jazz, and Gobert almost always seems to get the better result.

After the Jazz defense gets caught in a switch, Gobert ends up on a smaller, quicker offensive player. Usually, this happens near the rim, and the smaller player chooses to reset the offensive play and take Gobert back to the perimeter, then try to beat him off the dribble as the rest of the offense clears out.

On Monday, second-year guard Darius Garland became the latest victim.

Gobert got switched onto the Cavaliers guard near the hoop. Instead of kicking the ball out to a perimeter shooter, Garland backpedaled to the three-point line, passed the ball to Collin Sexton, before quickly getting the ball back and sizing Gobert up for the attack.

You can see the results here.

Here’s the incredible thing, Gobert doesn’t start to turn his hips to chase Garland until the guard is well inside the three-point line. Against most centers in the NBA, with Garland’s incredible speed and that late of a reaction from the defender, this should create an easy angle for a finish at the rim.

Gobert’s recovery speed, timing, and length simply don’t allow it.

By the time Garland gets into the paint, Gobert’s recovery has him matching the Cavaliers’ guard stride for stride. Then, Gobert perfectly times his leap, less than a half step after Garland leaves the floor so the guard can’t jump into him for a foul.

Finally, Gobert’s 7’1 frame and 9’7 standing reach don’t allow the 6’1 Garland any hope of finishing at the rim. Gobert’s block leads to a transition opportunity and a wide-open three for Joe Ingles.

The most surprising thing about this play isn’t that Gobert was able to make it, it’s how often smaller players think they can abuse the two-time defensive player of the year in space.

Earlier this month Boston Celtics forward Jaylen Brown made a similar mistake to Garland. The All-Star wing backed Gobert out to the perimeter, challenged him off the dribble, and when he got stuck at the rim, aimlessly pump-faked until Gobert swatted his shot.

Once again, it led to a transition opportunity and a dunk for Gobert on the other end.

Perhaps the most infamous example of Gobert’s dominance over smaller NBA players came on January 25, 2020.

With the Jazz leading 109-107 with under 30 seconds to play, Wright caught the ball at the three-point line going in the opposite direction of Gobert.

The former University of Utah product turned Gobert around to the point where the Jazz center had his back to the basket, facing away from Wright just 16 feet from the hoop. However, as has been the case since, Gobert recovered and made the game-saving block.

By this point, guards should recognize that challenging Gobert at the rim is a losing bet, and they’d be better served pulling up from three or letting a teammate attack the rim with the Jazz center pulled out of the paint.

But, if they haven’t learned in the last 15 months, no reason to think they will now.

Donovan Mitchell’s First Quarter Dominance

I’ve written recently about the Jazz recent string of dominant first quarters. Over their last five games, the Jazz have outscored their opponents by 70 points, or, an average of 14 points in the opening 12 minutes.

One of the main reasons for that has been Mitchell’s string of high-scoring first quarters. Over the last four games, Mitchell has averaged 11.3 points in the opening period, good for fourth-best in the NBA over the stretch.

Mitchell added another eight points against the Cavaliers which will ding his average a bit but allowed the Jazz to get off to another hot start, leading Cleveland by nine after 12 minutes.

For the season, Mitchell is the 20th leading fourth-quarter scorer in the NBA at 6.2 points per game, a drop from last season when the guard ranked 12th in the NBA at 6.6 points per game.

“Fortunately, this year we really haven’t had many close games,” Mitchell said. “I think that’s also been a part of it to where we haven’t had situations you’ve seen through my career where I’ve had the ball a bunch.”

The Jazz have played in the third-fewest close games this season and second-fewest among teams with a winning record. As a result, Mitchell’s late-game scoring has taken a hit, but the team’s wins have increased.

Jazz Tie Record For Longest Home Win Streak Vs. Cavaliers

The Jazz have tied their franchise record for the longest regular-season home win streak with 20 games, dating back to New Year’s Eve, 2020.

The team last hit 20 consecutive home wins during the 97-98 and the 98-99 season. The Jazz amassed 12 wins to close out the regular season in ’98, before starting the ’99 lockout-shortened season 8-0.

Bizarrely, the Jazz lost their first two home games to open this season, and have since rattled off 20 straight.

“It’s a special feeling honestly, to be able to know coming into the building like we have here at Vivint that we have an advantage,” Conley said. “We always feel like that. Even when the stands are not completely full, we feel like we still have some of the best fans in the world.”

The Jazz have thrice held 19 game win streaks in franchise history, the last time coming during the 07-08 season with Deron Williams and Carlos Boozer at the helm. The Jazz broke that record tonight and can break their own franchise record when they face the Chicago Bulls Friday night in Salt Lake City.

However, the team has a long way to go before breaking the NBA record for home wins. The Golden State Warriors set the league mark over a 14 month period between 2015 and 2016 when they won an unimaginable 54 consecutive games.

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