After two disappointing losses in a row, the Utah Jazz were able to turn things around against the Philadelphia 76ers.
So much has been talked about with the Jazz and their difficulty rebounding the ball but tonight they were able to lock things down against one of the best rebounding teams in the league. Utah won the rebounding battle 50-42 and the game.
Donovan Mitchell was fantastic, especially in the 1st quarter where he rolled off of Rudy Gobert screens over and over for a ton of easy buckets. It’s becoming a trend now with Mitchell to see him score at a very efficient level. If he keeps this up he’ll be a lock for an all-star bid and should be able to lead the Jazz deep into the playoffs.
Rudy Gobert was also great guarding one of the toughest players in the league. Joel Embiid struggled against Rudy Gobert like he does against no one else in the league. Gobert’s ability to not only guard Embiid but also help off of him and then rebound the ball is super human.
Rational Reaction #1: Bojan Bogdanovic was one of the best signings in the offseason
While we’re talking about the 76ers, when you look at what it cost for Tobias Harris and then what the Jazz paid for Bojan Bogdanovic, it’s looking like one of the best pickups in the offseason for half the cost.
This season Bogdanovic is scoring 20 PPG with a 49% FG% and 45% from three. Tobias Harris is scoring 20 PPG with a 52% FG% shooting 32% from three. Bogdanovic is also costing less than half of Harris’ contract at just $73 million over 4 years!
Tonight Bogdanovic was a major difference maker facilitating the ball and hitting big shots to help put away what could be the team to come out of the East this year.
Rational Reaction #2: Mike Conley is has been making the Jazz offense work all season (even though his percentages need to be better)
The biggest storyline this season outside of the defensive rebounding issues has been the slow start for Mike Conley. The thing is, he’s proven to be a successful pickup in how everyone has been better with him playing.
The fact is, when Mike Conley is on the floor he has to be guarded. Because of that, along with the spacing provided by the aforementioned Bogdanovic, it has opened up space for Donovan Mitchell. And that has been a huge factor in Mitchell’s success.
In the first quarter tonight we saw what happens with a player like Ben Simmons in the half court offense. The Jazz had Royce O’neale back off of him and close passing lanes and routes to the rim.
We saw that all last year with teams backing off of Ricky Rubio to make it impossible for Mitchell to get a head of steam to the rim, or space to rise and fire from mid range. Add on to that teams backing off of Crowder and Favors and it was a giant mess.
When Conley’s on the floor, teams have to guard him. His reputation alone is doing wonders for Mitchell who is putting up the best season of his career.
Tonight Conley shot 40% from the field and 33% from three. Not numbers that will blow you away, but he was a +19 in a game the Jazz won by two. I know plus/minus is super noisy but that tells you something about how much the Jazz starting unit is benefiting with Conley on the floor. This also tells you that when Conley has big shooting nights, the Jazz are going to be lethal.
Overreaction #1: Donovan Mitchell is looking like an MVP candidate
This is starting to not feel like an overreaction. Mitchell is scoring on the toughest defenses in the league and in the toughest of situations.
Tonight Mitchell was 43% from the field against one of the toughest defenses in the league with a ho hum 24 points. He’s looking MVP caliber with his ability to carry the team offensively when they need it most and it doesn’t look like he’ll be stopping any time soon.
Overreaction #2: Tony Bradley is a high level backup center
In the two games Tony Bradley has backed up Rudy Gobert he’s had to face Montrezl Harrell and Joel Embiid and he’s done surprisingly well.
The Jazz don’t need Bradley to be anything more than fine and he’s done more than that. He’s used his size well, rebounded and has scored a decent amount.
Bradley is never going to be an elite big in the league, and he’ll always be at the disadvantage of unfair perceptions by playing behind the most dominant defensive player in the league, but he’s showing signs of becoming something very solid for Utah in the future. You can do a lot worse with your 3rd center.
Underreaction: Joe Ingles is the GOAT
Ingles is looking like a very real candidate for 6th man of the year. National media will catch on soon that Ingles is manning a second unit that is starting to hit its stride and winning games.
Tonight Ingles had 16 points and was a force while handling the ball. On multiple occasions he dictated pace and created points where mere mortals couldn’t.