The Utah Jazz will need to benefit from significantly improved play out of their shooting guards, Joe Ingles and Rodney Hood, to stay afloat against the Golden State Warriors.
Earlier this morning, I detailed how vital it will be for the Utah Jazz to find their stroke from deep if they hope to compete with the prolific offensive firepower of the Golden State Warriors. Surprisingly enough, the Jazz actually shot a higher three-point percentage than Golden State in Game 1, although both struggled mightily to convert and Utah is going to have to do a better job in that regard moving forward.
Of course two of Utah’s renowned sharpshooters are their starting and backup shooting guards – Joe Ingles and Rodney Hood. Unfortunately, it just so happens that their struggles from deep have been a very large reason why the Jazz as a team haven’t found success from the three-point line of late.
During the postseason, Ingles and Hood are averaging the worst three-point shooting percentage of any Jazz player who has taken at least one attempt and is not named Shelvin Mack (insert collective Jazz fan eye roll here). Both are considerably down in the postseason compared to the regular season as Ingles is shooting just 33.8 percent (as compared to a blistering 44.1 percent) and Hood is converting at a rate of just 30.8 percent (down from 37.1 percent).
It doesn’t take much of a mathematician to realize how much of a drop-off that is and to surmise just how many points it’s costing the Jazz.
Unfortunately it’s not just the deep-ball that isn’t falling for them as, additionally, Hood and Ingles are both shooting the lowest percentage from the field on the team with exception to Shelvin Mack. Rodney has converted on just 39.2 percent of his attempts while Ingles is at 37.8 percent.
That dip in production for two guys who typically provide some nice offense for the Jazz isn’t a good recipe for success against an offensive behemoth like the Warriors. And if they don’t get going, then the Jazz will be in big trouble moving forward.
Beyond the shooting, Rodney Hood has looked practically lost on defense for the majority of the playoffs. Sure, he has length, but his inability to stay in front of of his opponents on defense or switch effectively has absolutely killed his team.
Ingles, meanwhile, received a lot of recognition during the first-round series against the Los Angeles Clippers for being a solid defender and a bit of an irritant, particularly for J.J. Redick. However, in the latter half of the series, Ingles wasn’t nearly as formidable defensively as he had been, and he struggled to make much of an impact in Game 1 against Golden State.
He’s also developed a tendency to turn the ball over, especially when driving and dishing. Ingles took great care of the ball in Games 5 through 7 of the first-round series as he didn’t log a single turnover (although that was quite nullified given that he failed to score in two of those contests). However, he had averaged two giveaways per game in the first four bouts and matched that output in Game 1 against Golden State.
Ingles is a guy who is capable of contributing without scoring, but when his shots aren’t falling and he’s making poor decisions resulting in costly turnovers, that’s a bad combination.
To be frank, Joe Ingles is a phenomenal role player and has exceeded expectations for the Jazz this season, but he’d likely fit best as a spark plug off the bench. Rodney Hood, meanwhile, has become too unreliable defensively and can’t seem to find his shot from deep (which is truly one of the few facets of his current skill set that would merit playing time), so Coach Snyder can’t trust him to be in a starting role either.
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Therefore, the shooting guard position has certainly become a glaring point of weakness for the Jazz. Hopefully it’s an area where Utah can look to bolster their strength during the offseason, but for now they’ll have to just make the most of what they have.
Ideally, Ingles will be able to ramp up the defense and go back to being the solid glue guy that helps the starting line up come together, and Hood will be able to find his shot from deep. If that isn’t the case, though, then it’s likely that the Warriors will continue to have their way with the Jazz, much like they did in Game 1.
All stats courtesy of NBA.com.