The Triple Team: Jazz throw out double-teams against Mavericks, come out with a win

(Leah Hogsten | The Salt Lake Tribune) Utah Jazz guard Jordan Clarkson (00) and Utah Jazz guard Collin Sexton (2) celebrate Clarkson's 3-pointer as the Utah Jazz host the Dallas Mavericks, Jan. 28, 2023 at Vivint Arena.

Three thoughts on the Utah Jazz’s 108-100 win over the Dallas Mavericks from Salt Lake Tribune beat writer Andy Larsen.

1. Interesting Jazz defensive strategy

This Jazz/Mavs game didn’t have Luka Doncic, but it did have both teams trying out some interesting defensive strategies that dictated the terms of the game. As a result, the game had the fewest possessions of any the Jazz have played all year.

Ochai Agbaji explained the Jazz’s side of things.

“It goes back to personnel,” Agbaji said. “Josh Green, we wanted him to be the playmaker, to have the ball in his hands most of the time, and get it out of Spencer Dinwiddie’s hands. And then in those situations, it’s just about flying around, being active, trying to psych them out in a way, make them do something like traveling.”

So you can see what the Jazz did, take this example:

The Jazz are literally double-teaming Dinwiddie. Clarkson completely leaves his man, and then Conley leaves Green in order to kind of guard both Reggie Bullock and Josh Green on the perimeter. And yeah, Dinwiddie makes this three, but you’re generally just going to have to be okay with stepbacks.

If Frank Ntilikina was in the game, the Jazz were pretty okay with ignoring him, too.

This worked reasonably well, I think. Dinwiddie made some mistakes, as did Green.

Dinwiddie’s best with the ball in his hands, but he probably hasn’t seen many outright double-teams in the NBA — certainly not with Luka Doncic on the floor too. Meanwhile, Green is a youngster who has only recently started to get big minutes — he’s not very pass-first. The result was putting players in situations they often don’t face.

In the end, I thought it was pretty successful. The Mavs usually have a 107 offensive rating with Luka off the floor, tonight, their offensive rating was 106. For the 26th-ranked defense in the league, you’ll definitely take that.

I also think this is a look that could work well against other teams, if the Jazz play it as well as they did tonight. If Kyrie Irving or Damian Lillard start having some success, bringing two at them is one way to try to shut that off.

2. Some nonsense basketball worked tonight

This was also a weird game in that I felt like the outcome of the possessions had very little to do with the quality of the defense, for both teams. Malik Beasley and Jordan Clarkson are good shooters, but they had some weird shots go down.

This is some nonsense:

As is this. Nonsense Clarkson is capable of... but probably not the shot you draw up.

Ditto with Spencer Dinwiddie’s stuff, including this 40 footer.

Or sometimes you miss one of those so badly that it’s just an airball, allowing your teammate to run under and get a layup:

I think sometimes it’s easy to forget about how random basketball is. The best-laid plans can be beaten by a player just making a lucky shot, or a bounce that happens to go the right way or wrong way.

How can we quantify such a thing? Well, we can go to the tracking data. In particular, we can look at how the teams shot at the end of the shot clock, or when a defender is close to a shot.

Unfortunately, tracking data isn’t usually uploaded until the next day after a game, so we can’t look at it immediately upon posting this Triple Team. When we do get that data, I’ll check if my hypothesis was right.

3. Patrick Beverley makes me laugh

This is a stretch, to be sure, but we’re going to talk about the former Jazzman for a month, Patrick Beverley. He’s done two things in the last week that have been absolutely hilarious, and I treasure them.

First, this from last Friday. Damian Lillard, the Portland Trail Blazers star, had a rough game against the Lakers, shooting just 5-17 from the floor. So Beverley mocked his “Dame Time” celebration by pretending his watch was broken.

This is terrific acting. PatBev is winning every charades game he plays. Smacking the watch, taking it off, putting it in his fake pocket... I don’t know if he had planned this out beforehand, but regardless, it’s amazing.

Then tonight, the Lakers lost on national TV because of a non-call on LeBron James. Afterwards, Beverley took one of the photographers cameras and showed a picture of the foul to referee Eric Lewis.

Afterwards, Eric Lewis answered questions about the incident to a pool reporter.

Bringing a camera out, I would argue, is not inappropriate. I think that’s evidence permissible in a court of law. I generally like Eric Lewis, actually, but giving a technical foul at this point after the referees literally and objectively cost the Lakers the game is unnecessary.

Imagine if this wasn’t punished. Would we start a trend of players showing refs photos of fouls? And... wouldn’t that be pretty fun, actually?

Beverley’s detractors call him a clown. You know what? Being a clown is great! This game is entertainment, and too often we forget that. Beverley hasn’t, and it makes him one of the most fun players to watch in the NBA.

(And yes, part of me wishes the Jazz had kept him instead of trading him for Talen Horton-Tucker.)

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