On The NBA Beat

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Tag: Dante Exum

Zach Harper: With Continuity, Jazz Could Become “Best Non-Warriors Lineup in NBA”

The Utah Jazz have persevered through a season full of injuries on their way to 51 regular-season wins and a possible advance into the second round of the postseason (Gordon Hayward/Instagram).

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Before this season, the Utah Jazz had made their last postseason appearance in 2012 and hadn’t won a playoff game since 2010. Since then, they bottomed out at 25 wins in 2013-14, then steadily built themselves back up by developing players, finding diamonds in the rough, and, this season, adding some key veterans to their squad. Now, up 3-2 on the Los Angeles Clippers and heading home to Utah for Friday’s Game 6, they’re on the brink of advancing to the next round to face the Golden State Warriors. Zach Harper, an NBA columnist for Fan Rag Sports, twice-a-week participant on ESPN’s TrueHoop Podcast and co-host of the Salt City Hoops Show, takes us through that journey. He breaks down what we can expect for the rest of the Jazz’s postseason, explains how they’re so dangerous on both sides of the court, looks at some big decisions looming ahead in the offseason and tells excellent stories and more. Not to toot our own horn, but you can sample some mellifluous excerpts below:

7:19-8:07: “You’ve allowed the Jazz to kind of dictate so much of the tempo to be a slow, grind-it-out game, and that’s what they want. They want to play at that slow pace. They want to force you to defend for 24 seconds. They want to force you to attack late in the shot clock against them and have to panic into shots and everything. So that’s the tough thing for the Clippers, and maybe why Game 5 was a little bit of a must-win. Just because you can’t be back against the wall while also not being able to play the brand of basketball you want to play in a series. With that said, the Jazz are looking at Game 6 as a must-win, because they don’t want to go back to LA. I kind of think that’s a mistake. It puts an unnecessary amount of pressure on the home team, especially one with such a young core.”

11:58-12:41: “A lot of people locally will say it [the team MVP] has been Rudy Gobert because [of] the defensive impact. Gordon [Hayward]’s a really good defender. He plays really well defensively within that system, and he’s so vital to them offensively that, to me, it’s just enough to edge out what Gobert’s been able to do, who might be the Defensive Player of the Year and was the second-best pick ‘n roll big man this year in the NBA, but Gordon, his patience…you see so many star wings go into this hero mode and this iso[lation] mode and maybe rush shots and rush possessions, because you have to make sure you get a shot off, right? But Gordon just always plays within the flow of the offense and doesn’t really force anything, doesn’t take bad shots.”

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Elfrid Payton, HinkieBall and the Cheating Fan

(Jose Garcia/Creative Commons)

(Jose Garcia/Creative Commons)


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On the debut of OTNB’s three banter segments (the A-A-Ron Block, LLC Incorporated and the J-Spot), the co-hosts react to the Warriors-Clippers media beef and opine on Jamal Crawford’s fit with the Clippers’ retooled roster. Later, the panel praises Elfrid Payton’s dynamic young game, as it includes Orlando as a potential surprise team this season. The Stifle Tower, Rudy Gobert, gets some serious love on the show, and the merits of Sam Hinkie’s radical approach to team-building are debated. Finally, if you were going to cheat on your favorite NBA team, with which squad would it be? Loren and Aaron provide interesting answers.

Music: “Who Likes to Party” by Kevin MacLeod 
Introduction by Jonathan Santiago

Traversing the Loaded West With Alex Kennedy

AKandLillard

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Basketball Insiders’ Alex Kennedy helps us navigate the 2015-16 Western Conference, a collection of teams featuring various contenders who made key offseason additions and the defending champion Golden State Warriors, a dominant team that largely stood pat. In addition to the uber-competitive West, Alex discusses Anthony Davis’ ample room for improvement, young players primed to break out this season, Jamal Crawford’s complicated fit with the Clippers, the enigma that is Jeremy Lin’s hair and so much more.

Music: “Who Likes to Party” by Kevin MacLeod 
Introduction by Jonathan Santiago

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