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Instant analysis: Jazz drop first game of a back-to-back in loss to Heat

SHARE Instant analysis: Jazz drop first game of a back-to-back in loss to Heat
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Miami Heat forward Jimmy Butler (22) looks to pass as Utah Jazz center Rudy Gobert (27) defends during the first half of an NBA basketball game, Friday, Feb. 26, 2021, in Miami.

Associated Press

The Utah Jazz battled a tight game through 48 minutes but came up short against the Miami Heat on the road, 124-116, for their second loss in four games.

High notes

  • Donovan Mitchell’s composure off the dribble in traffic has been really great to watch. This is the kind of tool that’s so useful for the players that are able to convert through contact. When the team is in need of a bucket and a little boost, especially in the playoffs, it’s necessary to have a player who can do this, and it doesn’t hurt at all if they’re good at drawing that contact too, something Miami’s Jimmy Butler does very well.

“He’s an artist at it... I’ve been watching him especially because I try and do the same, try to find a way to attack seams and stuff.” —Donovan Mitchell on Jimmy Butler’s ability to attack and draw contact

  • Apparently Bam Adebayo was a game time decision with a sore left knee, but you really couldn’t tell there was any problem. He finished with 19 points, 11 rebounds, seven assists and looked spectacular. 
  • Speaking of Heat players who were great, Butler really knows how to make a defense look tired and out of sync. Obviously not great news that he and Goran Dragic were pretty much getting what they wanted against the Jazz, but really impressive games from both of them.
  • There were a couple of hustle plays from Mike Conley in the fourth quarter that I thought were really important in terms of projecting into the future. Like Mitchell’s ability to get a bucket in traffic, the hustle plays down the stretch can often mean the difference, but it can’t just be coming from Conley. There was one play where he forced a jump ball against Butler, which the Jazz got hold of and got a corner 3-pointer from Bojan Bogdanovic. A really good example of the type of play that can swing a game in the postseason.
  • The Jazz didn’t miss a free throw until Mitchell missed in the fourth quarter, and in particular Rudy Gobert didn’t miss a single free throw. Gobert has only missed two free throws over the last five games. That’s a huge improvement from where he and the team were at the beginning of the season.
  • The Jazz were over the foul limit for the final 4:35 of the second quarter but managed to keep their composure during that time.
  • Royce O’Neale has been making quicker decisions lately, which means taking more open shots. He’s gained a bit of a reputation of being hesitant to shoot at times and passing up open looks, but it seems like maybe he’s turned a bit of a corner.

Low notes

  • The Jazz’s shooting in the fourth quarter, in particular the shots from Mitchell and Jordan Clarkson in the final seconds of the game, was horrendous.
  • The whole game came down to the fourth quarter and the Jazz made a ton of mistakes and completely lost their composure. They usually execute better than they did on Friday so it looked particularly egregious.

“We just made a lot of mistakes. We had too many breakdowns on both ends. Defensively, a lot of little things that made it harder and those are things that we needed tonight. It’s one of those games we didn’t shoot as well as we want to, but we just, we didn’t play well.” —Jazz head coach Quin Snyder

  • The Heat were purposefully attacking Bogdanovic, getting Butler switched onto him in the pick-and-roll over and over and Bogdanovic couldn’t handle it. He picked up his fourth foul with 8:05 left in the third quarter and was on the wrong side of a lot of Butler’s buckets.
  • Overall the Jazz did not defend well against the Heat. They didn’t get the stops they needed, they were outrebounded by a large margin, missed rotations, left guys wide open and were a little more lax than we’ve seen in a while. Just not a great game overall from the Jazz.
  • The free-throw shooting overall was great, but there were two missed freebies from Mitchell in the fourth that came at a really bad time in a tight game. 

Flat notes

  • While the Jazz did a good job of not fouling when they were in the penalty in the second, the Heat went over the foul limit with just under three minutes left in the fourth quarter when they had a three-point lead, then Kelly Olynyk fouled out just seconds later. Not a great sequence for the Heat, but even worse looking back and seeing that the Jazz didn’t capitalize on the opportunity. 
  • I agree with the notion that these are the kinds of games that are important for the Jazz to have, but I’d much rather see them have to grind out games against potential Western Conference foes, and also not on the first night of a back-to-back set on the road.