Jazz play-by-play announcer Craig Bolerjack calls Jazz swingman Joe Ingles “Slow-Mo Joe,” thanks to his, uh, lower-than-average top speed for a NBA player.
But the Rockets’ switching defense requires quick-twitch muscles to defeat. There’s a blink in which to attack the defense at the moment of the switch, and Ingles hasn’t shown the ability to make that happen.
In Sunday’s Game 1, Ingles made just one shot and took only four, never getting to the free-throw line. Those three points were wildly off his season averages: he normally contributes 12 points per game on 10 shots, acting as one of the Jazz’s most efficient players.
Even worse than that was the lack of playmaking, as the Jazz also rely on the baskets Ingles creates. In the second half of the season, Ingles averaged 7.5 assists per game. In Game 1, he only assisted one basket.
Wednesday’s Game 2 showed incremental gains, but not enough to make the Jazz’s offense anywhere close to effective. He finished with 7 points on 3-8 shooting, giving out all of two assists this time.
Certainly, Ingles isn’t alone in his struggles. As the Jazz rely on Ingles to create, they also need role players like Jae Crowder and Thabo Sefolosha to make the shots that are created for them. That hasn’t happened: the two combined for just 2-15 shooting in Game 1 and 2-12 shooting in Game 2. Even Kyle Korver has yet to make a shot for the Jazz, going shotless in Game 1 and 0-2 Wednesday.
“Maybe the biggest thing for us is we were well below our averages offensively in almost any category. We’ve got to have a better offensive night,” Jazz head coach Quin Snyder said before the game. “I think that takes the pressure off your defense, too. If they’re taking the ball out of the net because we scored, that’s a very different possession than if we haven’t scored or if we turn the ball over.”
The Jazz know what they want to do on offense, but they haven’t been able to execute it.
“We’re trying to get downhill, trying to get in the paint. The more paint touches we have, it’ll make our offense better. They switch a lot, so once you break the paint and put them in rotations, we should get any shot we want to,” Crowder said. That’s the problem, though: the Jazz have only gotten inside on rare occasions. And when they have tried to drive-and-kick, the shots haven’t fallen.
If the Jazz can’t repair the cogs in their blender, this series will be over in a hurry.