UTAH JAZZ

Jazz Still Preaching Defense Ahead Of Must-Win Game 4

Apr 22, 2022, 4:35 PM
Member of the Utah Jazz play defense against Dallas Mavericks guard Jalen Brunson (Photo by Tom Pen...
Member of the Utah Jazz play defense against Dallas Mavericks guard Jalen Brunson (Photo by Tom Pennington/Getty Images)
(Photo by Tom Pennington/Getty Images)

SALT LAKE CITY – The Utah Jazz are still preaching defense after dropping consecutive games in their opening-round series against the Dallas Mavericks.

At practice on Friday, reserve guard Jordan Clarkson discussed the defensive issues plaguing the Jazz in Games 2 and 3.

“Right now there’s a big focus on our defense, everybody’s talking about that and has made a point of emphasis on that,” Clarkson said. “We’re taking account for it.”

In their back-to-back losses, the Jazz have had the worst defensive rating among playoff teams at 128.3 points allowed per 100 possessions.

Led by breakout star Jalen Brunson, the Mavericks guards have wreaked havoc on Jazz defenders by repeatedly attacking the paint and either finishing near the rim, or kicking the ball out to open shooters.

Though the Jazz vowed to fix the issue after Game 2, the Mavericks’ three-point shooting was once again a key factor in Game 3.

“It kind of puts us in rotations,” Clarkson said of the difficulty containing Brunson. “But I feel like that’s somewhere where we’ve just all got to have each other’s back and rotate and communicate.”

A career 11.9 point per game scorer, Brunson is averaging 32.0 points per game in his last three appearances against the Jazz, and 36.0 points per game in the Mavericks’ consecutive wins.

Even when Brunson isn’t carrying the scoring load, Dallas’s three-point shooting barrage has repeatedly sunk the Jazz.

Over their last two games, the Mavericks have connected on 40-89 three-point attempts, taking and making more threes than the Jazz did in their first three games combined.

“When you get called up you just man up, you’ve got to lock up,” Clarkson said. “But at the same time though, you’ve got to know mentally that somebody else is coming behind your back to make sure they’ve got the rotation and to contest the shot.”

During the regular season the Mavericks had the 19th best three-point shooting percentage as a team at 35 percent while knocking down the 10th most threes at 13.1 per game.

In the playoffs, the Mavericks are shooting the fifth-best three-point shooting percentage at 40.5 percent and are knocking down the second-most threes at 16.3 per game.

The Jazz and Mavericks will tip-off at 2:30 pm MT on Saturday and can be heard on KSL NewsRadio and The Zone Sports Network. The game will be televised on TNT and FuboTV.

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Jazz Still Preaching Defense Ahead Of Must-Win Game 4