The final game of the preseason is usually a forgettable event featuring the end of the bench, G-League players, and guys who will soon no longer be on the roster. Obviously, this season is different, and with a shortened 3-game-preseason, the stakes were just a little bit higher. As Tavan discussed in his preview, this game could potentially offer a glimpse into Coach Snyder’s rotation.
The Utah Jazz began by rolling with what, I think, we all thought would be the starting lineup this season: Mike Conley, Donovan Mitchell, Rudy Gobert, Royce O’Neale, and Bojan Bogdanovic. The Jazz were active on defense early, forcing the Clippers into a couple one and outs. Bogdanovic was active early, hustling on defense, and picking up the first 5 points for the Jazz off a 3-pointer and a nice cut to the hoop.
Interestingly, Snyder pulled both Gobert and Conley for Favors and Ingles just 3 minutes into the game. Gobert only sat for 3 minutes and didn’t come back out for Favors until a couple of minutes into the 2nd quarter. It really is refreshing to see Favors out there with the 2nd unit that struggled so much at times last season. Favors is not only an upgrade at the backup center position, but should help make the players around him better, especially Ingles.
Gobert was active in the first half on D, and on the boards, but struggled with finishing. He had a few fumbles early on and was shut down at the rim on a few different occasions. I’d like to see Rudy go at the hoop stronger, rather than higher. It appears that players with a lower center of gravity are able to force Rudy out of position once he leaves the floor. On the other hand, Rudy looked dominant as usual on defense. Rudy definitely had some missteps, but he has a sense of elite presence in the paint. Favors looked young, spry, and effective as well.
Shaq Harrison made his first appearance as a Jazzman in the first half, playing 3, of what would have been Niang’s, minutes. His time on the court was mostly uneventful, and it was difficult to get much of a reading on him.
Donovan Mitchell didn’t really begin to assert his will until he became the primary ball handler toward the end of the first half. Although he missed a few shots, he made a couple as well along with some nice passes to close out the half. He continued to make his presence felt in the 3rd quarter, finishing with 15 points and 8 assists.
The Jazz finished the first half shooting 13-31 from behind the 3-point-line. They finished off the half on the only run from either team in the half, 15-3 including a couple big 3’s from Conley, to create some separation. They will be difficult to beat as long as they have Rudy and Favs anchoring the D while they unload from beyond the arc.
here's a bunch of threes if you're into that sort of thing pic.twitter.com/z9Vkq7UDF8— utahjazz (@utahjazz) December 18, 2020
The Jazz continued firing from 3, going 7-12 in the third quarter, as they continued to pull away from the Clippers. With the Jazz up double digits, both teams started emptying the benches early in the 4th. Clarkson and Favors put in some run with the guys further down the bench before leaving with 7 uneventful minutes left in the game. Hughes appears to be a legit NBA scorer. Oni looks more confident.
the camera barely made it down court for the shot, lol.— utahjazz (@utahjazz) December 18, 2020
Mike has 4 threes in the half pic.twitter.com/s79rmCwMah
Bogie and Clarkson led 6 players in double figures, finishing with 20 each. Rudy had 12 and 8. Conley went 4/8 from 3. Niang had 10 off the bench in the 2nd half.
There was no clear-cut MVP in this game, so I’m gonna go with Donovan Mitchell. It most definitely was not a perfect game from the Spida. It took him some time to get engaged and his shot wasn’t always falling. However, he made up for it by going 3-6 from beyond the arc and dishing out 8 assists.
Mitchell makes the biggest impact when he is the primary ball handler and that was on full display tonight. When he has the ball in his hands, Mitchell has a sense of gravity that, especially when there are 3 sharp shooters with quick triggers spaced out behind the line, makes him extremely difficult to defend. Mitchell is also demonstrating that he is capable of making the right reads. DM finished with 15 points in 26 minutes.
This was our first glimpse at what the regular season rotation minutes will look like. I didn’t see any major reasons to hate on Quin Snyder’s rotation tonight. It will be interesting if he continues to pull Gobert and Conley 3 minutes into each game. Is Niang still in the rotation? What about Morgan, will he get any play at all when the season starts? Are there any minutes left over for Shaq? How many minutes will Gobert play this year with Favors backing him up? Will it leave him feeling fresher when the playoffs come around? Jazz just signed the former future of the Dallas Mavericks, Yogi Ferrell
There is still some anxiety and uncertainty about Rudy’s contract situation, but he’s played well on the court and I think they’ll figure it out. The Jazz and Rudy need each other and will create a path forward together.
This game, and the preseason in general, should provide some healthy optimism for Jazz fans. Gobert and Favors were able to anchor the defense, Mitchell was able to assert his will, and the rest of the team D’d up and made shots. Jordan Clarkson is a legit 6th man of the year candidate. Favors clears up the hole in the paint from last season and should help elevate Ingle’s game. Bogdanovich is back and looks to be himself.
I think most Jazz fans will agree with me in saying that the Jazz have been ridiculously underrated by the media. If everyone can stay healthy, it should be an exciting season in which they exceed most expectations.