April 28th versus the Jazz (154-105 Jazz).
The very first highlight clip gave me a sense of what to expect, and not in a good way.
Rudy Gobert beautifully picks off an overhead Tyrese Haliburton pass to Richaun Holmes, and with 4 Kings relatively deep, it’s an ideal 2v1 advantage for Utah. Chimezie Metu is left trying to fight this off and bites on the possibility of a pass to Bogdan Bogdanovic, giving Royce O’Neale a relatively uncontested layup.
You can see Buddy Hield signaling to Metu to cover Bogdanovic, which was a mistake in my opinion; he should’ve taken the chance on covering Bogdanovic himself and let Metu contest the O’Neale layup.
It’s also evident that the focus of the Jazz in this matchup was to prioritize offensive movement and hammer the three-ball. The Kings looked genuinely disinterested in switching matchups, fighting over screens, and sometimes didn’t even bother with close-outs; at the 1:20 mark, Royce O’Neale gets a wide-open three just by setting a fake screen, and slowly shuffling beyond the arc.
The Jazz recorded 24 triples on the night for a remarkable 58.5% conversion rate. Having Bogdanovic attack Buddy Hield on drives proved to be fruitful for Utah in this game as he had 12 points early in the game and finished with a game-high 24, and I have a feeling that could be a trend for the Kings throughout these games.
In the early going, the defensive intensity doesn’t seem to be present. The lack of effort was pertinent on the glass, too; the Jazz grabbed an impressive 27.8% of available offensive rebounds compared to Sacramento’s 7.1%.
The Kings clearly lacked a rim deterrent in this one as the Jazz attacked them mercilessly in the paint and were rewarded for it nearly every time. At points 2:44, 3:05, 5:34, and 5:42, these are some of the easiest buckets Gobert is gonna get in his career. This wasn’t a highlight performance for young Tyrese Haliburton either. He often got backed down in the paint and was taken advantage of for easy buckets, indicating his need to add core strength to fight off those post-up attempts.
He also took a strange route to the ball at 4:02, seeming to follow the ball instead of closing out to Georges Niang, allowing another easy triple. Utah also utilized 4-out sets (four players spread out on the perimeter) with Gobert being used as a hazard to give the ball-handler some room to operate, and they turned those into relatively open triples like in 6:20. Just another example of the difficulty Sacramento had closing out on dangerous shooters.
The rest of the highlight clip was more of the same. However, it wasn’t solely the Kings doing that led them to bleed 154 points; Utah shot at a blistering 77.9 effective field-goal percentage as they had contributions from all over the lineup.
They seemed to hit all shots, contested or not, and thoroughly wrestled the game away from the Kings in the second quarter. Did you notice how neither Donovan Mitchell or Mike Conley were brought up? That’s because they didn’t play. Conceding 154 points to the Jazz without their two best offensive players is a tough way to start off this one.