Undersized Jazz No Match For Cavaliers

Jan 12, 2022, 9:43 PM | Updated: 9:44 pm

Cleveland Cavaliers forward Lauri Markkanen defends Utah Jazz forward Bojan Bogdanovic (Photo by Ch...

Cleveland Cavaliers forward Lauri Markkanen defends Utah Jazz forward Bojan Bogdanovic (Photo by Chris Gardner/Getty Images)

(Photo by Chris Gardner/Getty Images)

SALT LAKE CITY – The shorthanded Utah Jazz proved to be no match for the supersized Cleveland Cavaliers as they lost their fourth straight game 111-91.

Jordan Clarkson scored 22 points for the Jazz who were forced to play one of the smallest lineups in team history as Rudy Gobert, Hassan Whiteside, Rudy Gay, Udoka Azubuike, and Norvel Pelle all missed the game due to illness.

The Cavaliers, who start three seven-footers outrebounded the Jazz 50-32 en route to a 60-36 points in the paint advantage to split the season series at one game apiece.

Paschall Plays Well As Small Ball Center

Though the Jazz were ultimately blown out in the game, there were some promising signs from the team’s smaller units in the first half, most notably the play of Eric Paschall.

The Jazz gave up only 58 points which while not spectacular, could have been much worse considering the obvious size discrepancy. And, they did it without catching fire from three, meaning if Quin Snyder were to choose to play his smaller lineups for stints in the future their success may not be solely dependent on shot-making.

Most of the team’s offensive success came from abandoning the traditional pick-and-roll-based offense and simply putting their head down and getting to the rim, specifically from Paschall who finished with 18 points on 8-11 shooting.

Now, the Cavaliers have one of the more unique rosters in the NBA with their ability to play three seven-footers in their starting lineup, which allowed the Jazz easier opportunities to attack slower-footed defenders off the dribble.

“When we don’t have fives rolling the lanes open,” Snyder said after the game. “And that’s an opportunity for us to get in the paint.”

The question going forward is will Snyder be willing to take either Rudy Gobert or Hassan Whiteside off the floor in favor of a smaller lineup if he wasn’t forced to like he was against the Cavaliers?

And, would the Jazz offensive attack be as successful against opposing lineups that didn’t have so many taller, slower defenders?

Those are legitimate questions, and the answer may very well be no, but Paschall has likely done enough in his opportunities against the Toronto Raptors last Friday and the Cavaliers on Wednesday to warrant more chances before the end of the season.

“He’s attacking off the dribble and he’s getting to the rim,” Snyder said of Paschall. “If he isn’t getting to the rim he’s under control and he’s making the right read passing the ball out.”

The Jazz are right to prefer having Gobert on the floor as much as possible in every game he’s available, but in instances where the team would benefit from playing smaller lineups, Paschall may be a legitimate weapon.

Balancing The Data With The Bodies

The Jazz find themselves in an awkward spot — in the midst of a down stretch of basketball, being forced to play without several key players from their rotation, and sitting less than a month out from the NBA’s trade deadline.

The team must make sure it’s in the best position possible to compete for a championship as they prepare for the playoffs, and they will make decisions before the trade deadline to address what their perceived weaknesses are. But, they’re trapped having those weaknesses over the last week with less than reliable data due to the lack of rotation players available.

What could make those decisions even more difficult is how quickly the team’s roster is changing, not just every day but every hour.

The Jazz will now head into a three-day break before facing the Denver Nuggets on Sunday which could allow Gobert, Gay, and Hughes to clear protocols before the team suits up again, but could also provide more time for other players to find themselves sidelined by the virus.

“You react and adjust to the reality of the situation,” Snyder said of the team’s difficult predicament. “And that’s what we’ll do.”

So far, Mitchell, Conley, Clarkson, Forrest, Valentine, Bogdanovic, O’Neale, Cheatham, and Paschall have yet to find themselves in the league’s health and safety protocols, but that could change at a moments notice.

Over the last 24 hours alone, Whiteside, Pelle, and House Jr. have been added to the team’s list of unwell players, either with confirmed cases of COVID or on the non-COVID list.

Depending on who else gets sick on the team, when it happens, and how quickly they return, the Jazz could likely be without a full roster until late January, with just weeks to go before one of the most important trade deadlines in recent memory.

Making matters worse, of the team’s next eight games, six will come against teams currently slated to make the playoffs in the Western Conference, including three matchups with the league-leading Phoenix Suns and Golden State Warriors.

  • Utah Jazz Scoreboard

  • Utah Jazz Team Leaders

  • Utah Jazz Standings

Ben Anderson

Kawhi Leonard #2 of the LA Clippers drives to the basket against Luka Doncic #77 of the Dallas Mave...

Ben Anderson

NBA Playoffs Rooting Guide For Utah Jazz Fans

If you're a Utah Jazz fan wanting to watch the NBA playoffs, but don't know who to cheer for, this rooting guide is for you.

3 days ago

Jordan Clarkson #00 of the Utah Jazz...

Ben Anderson

Jordan Clarkson Wants NBA Title, Second Sixth-Man Trophy

Now the elder statesman of the Utah Jazz, Jordan Clarkson has a few to-dos left in the NBA before calling it a career.

3 days ago

Kenneth Lofton Jr. #34 of the Utah Jazz is guarded by Jonathan Kuminga #00 of the Golden State Warr...

Ben Anderson

Three Utah Jazz Players Earn G League Honors

Kenneth Lofton Jr., Jason Preston, and Darius Bazley all took home G League honors after signing with the Utah Jazz this season.

4 days ago


Ben Anderson

Will Lauri Markkanen Sign Contract Extension With Jazz?

The Utah Jazz enter the 2024 offseason with their eyes set on signing Lauri Markkanen to a contract extension.

5 days ago


Ben Anderson

Utah Jazz Mailbag: Is Keyonte George’s Shooting A Concern?

Welcome to the Utah Jazz mailbag where every week our NBA insiders answer your questions on social media about your favorite team.

6 days ago

Utah Jazz CEO Danny Ainge...

Ben Anderson

Danny Ainge: Jazz Ready To Go ‘Big Game Hunting’

With the Utah Jazz 2023-24 season complete, CEO Danny Ainge opened up about the team's successes and failures, and its plans for the future.

6 days ago

Sponsored Articles


KSL Sports

KSL Sports Newsletter: Sign Up Now

Sign up today for the KSL Sports newsletter. Get the latest Utah sports news delivered to your inbox.


KSL Sports

Jazz Notes Newsletter: Sign Up Now

Sign up today for the Jazz Notes newsletter. Get insider analysis, game recaps and opportunities to win tickets!

Follow @kslsports...

The Road Home Mediathon 2023

The KSL Sports Zone and are proud to support the all-day Mediathon 2023 at the Road Home, an annual tradition to raise money and other essential items for the Road Home, a Homeless Shelter.

3 kids wearing real salt lake jerseys smiling...

Real Salt Lake

6 Reasons You Need to Experience a RSL Matchday

RSL Games are a great way to spend time with your family with fun activities, good food, and traditions you can only experience at the field.

High angle view of the beautiful Rose Bowl Stadium...

KSL Digital Sales

How to Prepare for the 2023 Rose Bowl

Everything you need to know to plan your 2023 Rose Bowl trip in Pasadena, California. This year, the Utes will face Penn State.


KSL Digital Sales

Notable Moments From The Utah Jazz Season… So Far

At the beginning of the season, the Utah Jazz were second to last. Now they rank in the top 10 teams in the Western Conference.

Undersized Jazz No Match For Cavaliers