The Jazz came into Brooklyn to face the Nets and were in control from start to finish. Coming back from one game off for sickness, Donovan Mitchell scored 25 points. Joe Ingles was brilliant pouring in 27 points with 4 assists. Ingles tore up the Nets tonight shooting 6/8 from three putting Kyrie Irving and company to bed.
Rational Reaction #1: The Jazz bench has made them a true contender
Sure, everyone will look at this stretch of games the Jazz have won and point to an easy schedule. Even though that’s definitely true, the Jazz are playing at an elite level right now that is night and day to how the played to start the year.
Earlier this season the Jazz bench gave up leads in every game, it didn’t matter how good the opponent was. Every night it came down to how well the starters could overcompensate. Adding Jordan Clarkson, benching Ed Davis for Tony Bradley and releasing Jeff Green has changed this Jazz team.
The starters were always this good, but the bench was so bad it masked how well they were playing. But now that the Jazz bench is holding leads, and sometimes even extending them, the Jazz are winning and will continue to win through the rest of the season and into the playoffs.
Rational Reaction #2: Donovan Mitchell is one of the best closers in the league
Going into the second half Donovan Mitchell had 4 points but he ended the game with 25. Right now the Jazz have everything working for them, players know their roles and are performing them at an elite level. And everyone on the team knows that when it’s close, Donovan Mitchell’s role is closer
Near the end of the 4th quarter Mitchell takes control and gets the shots he wants night after night. For those unfamiliar with the Jazz
who only follow Bleacher Report and ESPN Mitchell has been doing this for years now and he’s been honing his craft. The pullup three is falling with more regularity now so when Rudy Gobert comes to give the high screen, there’s almost no way to guard it.
The Jazz know how valuable a weapon Donovan Mitchell is and have surrounded him with lethal outside shooting.
Think about this. At the end of the game you will likely always have three 40%+ three point shooters surrounding a Donovan Mitchell/Rudy Gobert pick and roll. Go under the screen and Mitchell buries the three. Go over and you have to pick your poison between Mitchell or Gobert at the rim. Send help defense and Bogdanovic or Ingles will be getting an open corner three.
That’s a recipe that bodes very well for the offseason. When you consider the Jazz will also get Mike Conley back soon as a secondary option, it’s unguardable.
Overreaction: Rudy Gobert deserves MVP recognition
The casual NBA fan would scoff at this, but for those who watch Rudy Gobert night after night, this isn’t that much of an overreaction.
Paired with every Donovan Mitchell bucket in crunch time is always a Rudy Gobert block on the other end. On top of that, Gobert is setting the picks at the end of games that are freeing up Mitchell to go to work and then clearing the path with his roll to the rim. Gobert is as integral to the Jazz winning as anyone else is to any other team.
What would the narrative be if the Jazz hadn’t gotten to such a rocky start this year? Probably not much different because I guess Alex Caruso breathed today but Gobert would definitely deserve some MVP votes, maybe even a majority of them.
Underreaction: The Utah Jazz are dominant right now
As of this moment, the Jazz have the #11 offense and the #8 defense in the league and it’s climbing every game.
Whatever style is thrown at them they are handling it with relative ease. Like we’ve said, the Jazz schedule has eased up recently, but the Jazz are absolutely throttling these teams they’re playing. And somehow people who claim the Jazz haven’t played anyone forget to mention a decisive victory over the Clippers in LA.
The Jazz have taken care of business like dominant teams do and soon they’ll be adding Mike Conley to the mix. The ceiling is looking sky high. When the schedule gets tough again, it will be interesting to see how well they do and if they can take the chemistry they’ve built and separate themselves from the pack in the standings.