What makes the Utah Jazz offense so lethal in playoffs

Utah Jazz (Chris Nicoll-USA TODAY Sports)
Utah Jazz (Chris Nicoll-USA TODAY Sports) /

Playoff foes may not ever figure out a way to contain the Utah Jazz attack.

After posting the NBA’s best record (52-20) during the regular season, this Utah Jazz squad has not missed a beat so far in the postseason.

During the regular season, the Jazzmen were the fourth highest-scoring team in the league. So far in the playoffs, they have shot just under 40 percent from the 3-point range and around 47 percent from the field overall. Plus, they are averaging 16.8 makes per game from downtown, which is on par with their 16.7 average from the regular season that set the all-time NBA record.

Utah has been able to put up strong shooting numbers despite a stretch in the first quarter of Tuesday’s 112-109 Game 1 win over the Los Angeles Clippers where the Jazz went nearly eight minutes straight without a made field goal.

One of the biggest reasons why they have been so productive on offense has been the emergence of Donovan Mitchell. The 24-year-old guard has been an impact player from the moment he stepped into the league. But this year, he has started to make the jump from All-Star to superstar.

So far in these Western Conference Semifinals, with the Jazz holding a 2-0 series after Thursday night’s 117-111 home win, the Clippers have had no answers for Mitchell. He has been able to get all the way to the rim, create his own shot off the bounce, and find open teammates when defenders double him.

Mitchell is clearly the Utah Jazz’s No. 1 option, but one great player doesn’t always make for a great offense. Guys like Joe Ingles, Jordan Clarkson, and Bojan Bogdanovic can also both create their own shots and create for others.

Utah’s ball-screen offense has been virtually impossible to defend this year. Rudy Gobert’s presence and ability to roll to the rim put so much pressure on the opposing team. Defenses have to stay home and protect the paint with Gobert rolling hard to the rim, but they also can’t leave the Jazz’s plethora of knockdown shooters wide open.

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Amazingly, Utah has gotten off to this 2-0 start against Los Angeles without starting point guard Mike Conley (hamstring). The squad has plenty of other capable ballhandlers and guys to initiate the offense, but that is what Conley specializes in. He can take some of the pressure off of Mitchell and allow the emerging superstar to play more off the catch instead of on the ball.

Conley’s ability to operate in the pick and roll and make good decisions is a big part of the Jazz’s offensive attack.

Yet in his absence, Ingles has really stepped up as Utah’s secondary playmaker. The Aussie is tremendous at making the right reads in the pick and roll, controlling the tempo, and getting to the bucket at any time. He was incredibly efficient in the latest Game 2 win, scoring 19 points on 70 percent shooting, and the Jazz were +21 when he was on the floor.

When Ingles is aggressive and knocking down his shots, there isn’t much the Clippers are going to be able to do, especially when Mitchell is playing the way he is right now.

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Even without Conley in the lineup, the team has four players (Mitchell, Ingles, Bogdanovic, Clarkson) who can all create their own shot, play in the pick and roll, and consistently draw attention when they have the ball. Most teams have a couple of guys who can do that, but few have four who are all reliable playmaking threats.

This makes the Utah Jazz a difficult team to prepare for and make in-game adjustments against.

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The series with LA is far from over, but if the Jazz can continue to play this well, it will be tough for the Clippers to slow them down.