In today’s NBA, where the 3-point shot is such a crucial factor, the notion that a team should stop shooting them if they’re not going in is antiquated.
At a minimum, that notion certainly does not apply to the Utah Jazz, who made and attempted the most triples in the NBA during the regular season, both in terms of total makes and attempts, and averages per game.
Game 1 of their Western Conference semifinals series vs. the Los Angeles Clippers Tuesday evening was proof that that notion does not apply to the Jazz. After shooting 7-for-27 from deep in the first half, including 5-for-20 during a horrid first quarter, they shot 10-for-23 the rest of the way, riding that to a 112-109 win in front of a Vivint Arena sellout crowd 18,007.
“You hear it all the time when teams are missing, you say, ‘Hey, stop shooting, get to the line, get to the rim,’” Jazz head coach Quin Snyder said. “Those things are true, I just don’t think you stop shooting. I think you get to the rim, and you get to the line, and you keep shooting. Whatever a combination those things come in, I thought our guys had a pretty good feel for that balance. If we’re getting good looks, there’s no reason not to shoot them.”
Utah winding up 34% from 3-point range for the night is significantly lower than their regular-season average of 38.9%, but that’s not really the point here. The point is, the Jazz kept shooting, and because they didn’t stray from what has worked all season on offense, they are up, 1-0, on the Clippers in a series that will resume Thursday back at Vivint (8 p.m., ESPN).
In their defense, the Jazz were getting quality, clean looks in the first quarter, they just weren’t going in. Based on how this season has played out, that early trend was unlikely to continue all night.
The 3-point floodgates opened to start the third quarter. With Donovan Mitchell scoring Utah’s first 10 points, he banged two long treys, the second one on a step-back with a hand in his face, to cut what was a 13-point halftime deficit down to seven at 62-55.
The Jazz kept plugging away on both ends, and by the time Jordan Clarkson (6-for-14 from 3-point range) hit their sixth three of the quarter to tie the game at 79, they had already assumed control of a game that threatened to get away from them early on.
Bojan Bogdanovic’s 3 at the 10:23 mark of the fourth quarter gave the Jazz an 85-84 lead. They never trailed again. Mitchell hit one the next time down, Clarkson hit another two trips later and at that point, with the Jazz up, 91-85, it started to become clear they would not be giving this game up.
Bogdanovic knocked down one more from straightaway, his third of the night on six attempts, to put the Jazz up 10 with 5:22 left, prompting a Clippers timeout.
“If you look at how we play, if we pass those shots up, the likelihood of us getting a better shot throughout the possession goes way down,” Snyder said. “We also have a chance to turn the ball over, we may not have a chance to offensive rebound, so there’s a lot of things that go into it. I do think it’s a mindset that you can’t get discouraged, and we have to believe in who we are. We have to double-down.”