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Utah Jazz look out of sorts as they fall to Milwaukee Bucks on the road

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Relax. It’s preseason.

Utah Jazz v Milwaukee Bucks

Take a deep breath and say it with me, “It’s only preseason.”

Got it?

Good.

The Utah Jazz still have a lot of work to do before they are ready to ascend to the NBA’s elite in the regular season. The Bucks took the Utah Jazz to the woodshed in Milwaukee, defeating Utah 133-99. Mike Conley and Donovan Mitchell both made their preseason debuts. However, two-time Defensive Player of the Year Rudy Gobert and Aussie with a Mouth Joe Ingles did not play.

Take a deep breath and say it with me, “It’s only preseason.”

Got it?

Good.

The Jazz got to see what a team with strong roster continuity that has the defending MVP can do. Giannis Antetokounmpo was a destroyer of worlds. With no Greece National Team Head Coach in sight, Giannis was unleashed with full fury. The Greek Freak had 22 points, 11 rebounds, 4 assists, 1 steal, and 1 block in only 20 minutes of play. He was a game best +37.

Most of the the Jazz team struggled in the game. The lone bright spot was Donovan Mitchell who finished 5 of 9 from the field with 14 points in 17 minutes with 5 rebounds and 2 assists. His new backcourt teammate, Mike Conley, probably wants to put this outing behind him as soon as he can. He missed all of his shots and finished with only 6 points—all from the line.

Take a deep breath and say it with me, “It’s only preseason.”

Got it?

Good.

After the 1st half drubbing, Quin Snyder decided to rest his main rotation and play the end of the roster and two way players the rest of the way. Guys like Georges Niang, Miye Oni, Nigel Williams-Goss, and Tony Bradley were able to play against the Milwaukee Bucks starting lineup which was a good opportunity for the Jazz’s coaching staff to separate the wheat from the chaff.

Out of the those guys, Tony Bradley continues to put up double doubles. He had 17 points and 10 rebounds. William Howard is another guy who continues to impress and looks to the have the inside track to the 15th spot on the roster.

Take a deep breath and say it with me, “It’s only preseason.”

Got it?

Good.

Other than that, it’s a preseason game. Quin Snyder removing his starters is more of a concession that if he’s going to use preseason games to help his new players get a feel for each other, they need the catalyst for their entire offense and defense: Rudy Gobert. While it’s nice to see Mike Conley and Donovan Mitchell out there playing together, the reality is playing 20+ minutes with Ed Davis or Tony Bradley at center is not the biggest preparation they can have for the regular season.

That’s why it’s difficult to measure this game in a vacuum and if you do so, you’re being naive. In preseason, Quin Snyder and his coaching staff is more focused on if his team is executing his teams offense the way they would if Rudy was out there. So when Gobert is not out there, it’s going to make a difference, a significant difference. Tony Jones highlighted how the Jazz were without a lot of their length tonight.

To make predictions from preseason is to make a rash judgement on a glorified scrimmage. Coaches are looking how players execute plays, what lineups work, whether they should keep a certain player, who could step up in bigger situations, and testing new wrinkles to their offenses and defenses. All of which could crash and burn.

Which brings me to this, fans should want to see their favorite team careening quickly toward failures early in preseason. That means experimenting is happening. Using the preseason as the test for offseason hypotheses is what it’s there for. That’s why it’s hard to find an NBA writer who will attach their name to a strong prediction based on preseason results.

A prime example is from Dan Favale of Bleacher Report. He put together this chart of past NBA champion point differential in their preseason vs their regular season average point differential. Needless to say, if you’re going to be an NBA champion, the key is to be just below average in the preseason.

Or to put it another way, use the preseason for experiments in games that don’t count. Don’t overextend your players minutes. And—this is important—don’t get prideful about a blowout and lose sight of the big picture. Quin Snyder did that tonight in Milwaukee. Pulled his starters and didn’t have them play the second half without four of their projected rotation players—Emmanuel Mudiay, Dante Exum, Joe Ingles, and Rudy Gobert—in a game that doesn’t matter.

So breath. Take a deep breath.

It’s only preseason.