How the Utah Jazz Could Beat the Memphis Grizzlies and Secure a Playoff Spot
There's one game left in the season for both the Utah Jazz and the Los Angeles Lakers, and the fight for the final spot in the Western Conference playoff race is going down to the final game of the regular season.
The Jazz's final game is against the Memphis Grizzlies, a team that they've lost to in two of three regular season meetings so far. Since they own the tiebreaker against the Lakers, they will have to hope that they lose to the Houston Rockets on Wednesday as well.
In order for the Jazz to secure the eighth seed, they will need to play a near-perfect ballgame to defeat one of the best teams in the Western Conference and hope the Lakers stumble to a loss.
Defend the Post
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Zach Randolph and Marc Gasol combine to form one of the toughest front-court tandems in the league.
From Gasol's play-making abilities at the high post to Randolph's array of post-moves near the restricted area, the Jazz's big men have their hands full.
In the three contests, Randolph has averaged 20 points on 54 percent shooting from the field, which is nearly five points higher than his regular season average.
It would be a difficult task containing them in the post, as the Jazz are 19th in the league in opponent's points in the paint per game, allowing over 42 points from that area (per Team Rankings).
In the one game where they defeated the Grizzlies, the Jazz held Gasol and Randolph to a combined 30 points on 12-for-25 from the field. By no means is that considered 'shutting them down', but it was enough for the Jazz to pull out a victory.
Out Rebound Them
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The Jazz are 15th in the league in total rebounds per game, averaging over 50 rebounds per game as a team.
However, they've only averaged 38 rebounds per game in the three meetings against the Grizzlies this season. It's not a surprise, as the Grizzlies have the third-best rebounding rate in the entire league (per Hollinger's Team Stats).
But with the front-court depth that the Jazz possess, they should be able to gain the upper hand in the rebounding department. With the Grizzlies' addition of Ed Davis before the trade deadline, out rebounding the Grizzlies got even more difficult.
If the Jazz could limit their second chance opportunities and clean up the glass, it would help them greatly against the Grizzlies' already-lackluster offense.
Get Easy Transition Points
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The Grizzlies' suffocating half-court defense is their biggest weapon, but they don't fare as well in a full-court, transition game.
They give up nearly 13 points per game off of fastbreak points alone, while the Jazz are 10th in the league in fastbreak points per game with 14.3.
The Grizzlies' starting lineup isn't very athletic or fast, and that's been the biggest reason why their transition defense isn't at the elite level.
With the Jazz's plethora of young, athletic players like Derrick Favors and Alec Burks, they should get out and run after every defensive rebound. They must exploit one of the few weaknesses in the Grizzlies' defense with one of their own strengths.
If the pace of the game settles down and every Jazz offensive possession is in a half-court set, they'll find themselves having a difficult time trying to score.