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SALT LAKE CITY - The NBA is becoming a small man's game, the Heat showed that with a championship basically without a center. So the Jazz going with a big lineup is the equivalent of an NFL team using the option in a passing league.
However, last season the Jazz were spurred to the playoffs by a using their big lineup when needed to overpower foes, and it is now getting its chance to start, at least for another game.
In case anyone isn't aware at this point the big lineup uses Paul Millsap at small forward, Derrick Favors at power forward and Al Jefferson at center and any number of players in the back court dating back to last year.
The keys behind this line is Jefferson being the offensive power, Favors being the athletic elite defender and Millsap being the jack-of-all-trades on both sides of the court.
This lineup was shown off in the triple-overtime thriller in Toronto. D.J. Foster of NBC Sports talked about what the line did to secure the win.
"It can be tricky for Jazz head coach Ty Corbin to find time for his young frontcourt stud, but with the Raptors not having anyone remotely threatening at the small forward position, it gave Corbin the green light to play Paul Millsap (34 points, 9 rebounds) at small forward. That meant plenty of time for Utah's jumbo package, as Millsap, Favors and Al Jefferson played a great deal of the game on the floor together. The three-headed monster was huge offensively (we'll get to that), but defensively Favors erased Andrea Bargnani almost entirely."
Kevin Arnovitz of ESPN.com wrote "The Jazz go big in a small-ball world" about the unique direction the NBA is going towards position-less basketball. Teams are getting players who can shoot regardless of fit and making the pieces fit.
Then Arnovitz adds, "But wait a minute. Why does the end of traditional positions have to always mean "going smaller"? What if there's an equally reasonable argument that going the other way, leveraging size against stretch, is also a revolutionary idea?"
One of the ways that the lineup could work this season is Millsap's new talent for hitting the 3-pointer. He's not shooting a ton of them, but he is hitting them, 10-18 so far.
According to a tweet from David Locke, "Last year when Supersized with Millsap, Favors and Jefferson Jazz Offensive Eff was 111.9 pts per 100 possessions and Def Eff was 82.3"
The interesting part of the big line is that the offense is the stellar half of the stats this season. "The Utah Supersize lineup has posted an eye-popping offensive efficiency rating of 137.0 points per 100 possessions," wrote Arnovitz.
The defense, according to Arnovitz is, "The Supersizers have recorded a defensive rating of 111.1 per 100 possessions, which would qualify them as far and away the least efficient defense in basketball (Cleveland currently ranks 30th with a 107.8 rating)."
Now, here is the twist, that came before the Jazz actually started them against the lowly Wizards. The supersize line was outscored 15-2 to start the game. The big three ended the game a combined 15-43, and the starting line just didn't get the job done.
However, the Wizards did end the game with just 76 total points. So, the defense looked good and the offense looked bad. They only played in the first half together, finishing the half out on an even 11-11 run to finish the game down 26-13 as a unit.
The second half the Jazz went to a different starting line, but as of today it seems like the big line will be starting for the first time at home against the Rockets.
The Rockets boast a taller starting lineup than most with Patrick Patterson and Chandler Parsons both listed at 6'9" and Omer Asik at 7'. So, this could help the big line get some early traction without having to deal with the quicker small forwards, such as the Wizards' Trevor Ariza.
If the super-size line can't get the job done tonight it might spell the end of it starting, it still will work in situational play, but where coach Tyrone Corbin goes from there will be a whole different journey.