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Jazz lose close one to Grizzlies — though the NBA’s schedule didn’t do them any favors

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Three thoughts on the Utah Jazz’s 123-118 loss to the Memphis Grizzlies from Salt Lake Tribune beat author Andy Larsen.

1. Jazz lose a “schedule loss”

The Jazz’s last game against the Chicago Bulls was finished 19 hours and 35 minutes before they began tonight’s game against the Memphis Grizzlies. They left Chicago’s Midway airport at about 11:15 p.m., landing in Memphis at about 1 a.m. Then, they’d to get to their hotels, check in, and sleep, to prepare for today’s 4 p.m. MT tip. Generally, players get to the sector 2-3 hours before tip time to warm up.

Give it some thought from a competitive viewpoint: when do the Jazz have time to develop a game plan? Watch film from last night, learn from it, and implement those changes on this game? When have they got time to observe film of how the Grizzlies have been playing? Would they’ve time to plan for the questionable absence of Ja Morant? When have they got time to do ice baths, undergo massage therapy, get ankles taped, so on and so forth?

All of that also happens in a fast turnaround like this, but it surely happens within the in-between spaces, and doubtless not at peak efficacy. The team can’t schedule a game-day shootaround to totally prepare for what the Grizzlies run. Players and coaches can try to observe some film on the plane, but it surely’s going to be a somewhat janky experience. And after all, player muscles are going to easily not operate at peak performance, let alone brains.

I understand that nobody feels sorry for NBA players. They’re millionaires. They get to play a game for a living. It’s a really awesome lifestyle they’re in a position to lead.

But I feel sorry for the fans, who should have the opportunity to observe players at their peak performance. This game turned out to be an okay watch, but it surely was undoubtedly sloppy. The turnovers were quite a few. Kelly Olynyk’s ankle gave out on a late-game drive. Jordan Clarkson tried to fight a dude for no obvious, apparent reason. It actually wasn’t the most effective of what the NBA will be.

In our current setup, which features games like this, it’s scientifically unimaginable for the Jazz to perform at their best.

On the turn of the 12 months, I asked my followers on Twitter this:

Query of the Day:

Imagine you were designing the NBA, ranging from scratch. What number of games would you say each team should play within the regular season?

— Andy Larsen (@andyblarsen) January 1, 2023

Click through that tweet and skim the responses. The overwhelming majority suggested that the NBA adopt a schedule with between 50 and 70 games — a schedule that might eliminate back-to-back games like this one.

I understand that it’s challenging to work out the economics, and that the present model and tradition dictates an 82-game schedule. But I believe to finish the conversation there may be just shortsighted, that the league shouldn’t be afraid to get creative about the way it approaches these problems moving forward. (Particularly: even with a reduced schedule, the most important revenue source for the league shouldn’t be impacted: the identical variety of games might be placed on national TV. With regional network TV money disappearing, now may be an excellent time to make a switch anyway.)

NBA fans don’t want more NBA basketball, they need higher NBA basketball. Let’s make that occur.

2. Walker Kessler’s six block performance

As I used to be preparing for this game, I made a note to observe Walker Kessler, because I used to be just a little concerned that he was hitting a rookie wall.

Basically, he hadn’t necessarily been a standout in the previous couple of games. He played only 13 minutes on Saturday night, his lowest minute total since November. He was still a presence, but didn’t demand to be on the court like he had in December, earning 25-Half-hour per night. Add the back-to-back nature of the sport, and I believed it may be a game through which he showed fatigue.

After which he got here out and had five blocks in the primary quarter of play. Whoops!

Like Rudy Gobert, Kessler could make up for the weaknesses and mistakes by his teammates. Dillon Brooks just drives by Rudy Gay here — not an enormous surprise — but Kessler is in a position to play two well enough to come back over to get the block.

This next one was the most effective block of the bunch, I believed. Kessler is running back in transition, and desires to be able to assistance on the mismatch down low while also being aware of his man in transition, John Konchar. He recovers to shut out the three, Konchar attacks the closeout, and Kessler’s in a position to shift his momentum back towards the paint to get the highlight-reel block.

After which Gay falls asleep, doesn’t box out, and gets dunked on. Veteran leadership at its finest.

Like Rudy Gobert, Kessler needs the assistance of his teammates sometimes too.

Blocks are all the time going to be an opponent-dependent stat, though — you would like the opposite team to take shots around you in case you’re going to get blocks — and so Kessler only had yet one more block for the remaining of the sport. Personally, I used to be rooting for the triple double with blocks, but no dice.

Still, it’s an excellent performance by Kessler, I believed. To wit: no NBA player has gotten not less than six blocks in fewer minutes this season.

He’s a definite long-term keeper and soon-to-be starter for this Jazz team.

3. Kelly Olynyk’s play

Here’s how Kelly Olynyk’s play has modified month by month.

So, concerning the same playing time every month. What stands out?

• Obviously, the 3-point shooting has declined. That is smart, as nobody is a 57% 3-point shooter. Olynyk is a profession 36% 3-point shooter, so we must always expect somewhere in between the November and December results on average.

• He hasn’t gotten to the free-throw line hardly in any respect in January, which he needs to be able to be an efficient scorer.

• The offensive rebounds have dropped off significantly, as have the steals. He’s getting more defensive rebounds these days, though.

• Too many fouls generally, but especially in October and January.

And overall, when Kelly Olynyk is a less effective player, the Jazz are a less effective team. And as I have a look at his profession stats, I believe he could be a higher rebounder, and a less turnover-prone player than he has been recently. He handles the ball quite rather a lot, but five continues to be too many turnovers tonight, for instance, and I believed it cost them in that second quarter, especially.

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