In their second game in exhibition against the Miami Heat the Utah Jazz looked much better and got a close 101-99 victory. Some of that was because the Heat were without Jimmy Butler and Bam Adebayo, but overall Jazz fans will be much happier with Utah’s performance.
Rudy Gobert looked like Rudy Gobert again!
Gobert was absolutely dominant in his minutes on the floor. Gobert took on a 5-out offense and wrecked everyone who went at him. Gobert switched onto the perimeter multiple times and covered everyone. It was a dpoy-like performance from the best defender in the world.
Gobert was also dominant on offense. In 23 minutes Gobert scored 21 points and they weren’t putbacks off of misses. Gobert attacked the rim when he was inside getting multiple trips to the free throw line where he was 5/6. In a 2-point win for the Jazz, Gobert was +15.
The Utah guards also found Gobert for lobs all game, especially Donovan Mitchell who connected with Gobert time after time. Seeing that connection between those two is a huge relief for Jazz fans who have spent four months hearing about the rift between the two players.
And that was the other exciting thing about this game.
The Donovan Mitchell/Mike Conley backcourt looked great
Mitchell did not have a great shooting night but his playmaking was fantastic. Mitchell was 3/11 from the floor but it didn’t matter because of his lobs to Gobert. In a two point win Mitchell was +11 for the game. He made his teammates better while he was on the floor and it contributed to the nice runs for Utah.
The exciting thing about those lobs was how easy Mitchell got to the rim. Before the pandemic a lot of those drives to the rim would be a floater or a tough fadeaway, but in this game Mitchell found Gobert multiple times. He also kicked it out to open shooters throughout the game. If this is the Mitchell we see in the bubble, Utah is going to be a tough team.
The other half of Utah’s backcourt also looked solid. Conley’s shot wasn’t falling in the first quarter but he went on a tear in the 2nd. Conley ended the game with 17 points and helped power some of Utah’s biggest runs. When Conley is hitting his shots, Utah is going to be potent on offense.
Tony Bradley struggled at backup center
It was a rough night for Bradley who was a -17 in a 2-point win. Multiple times Bradley was lost on the defensive end and had only 2 rebounds for the game, his specialty. If Bradley is going to get consistent minutes he has to impact the game in a positive way, a -17 swing is just not going to cut it in the playoffs.
On top of that Juwan Morgan eventually came in and was a +4 in 9 minutes. That’s a small sample and pretty noisy but it passed the eye test. Morgan is strong and can stretch the floor. He provides more space for players like Jordan Clarkson and Emmanuel Mudiay to get better shots. If this keeps up we might have a new backup center for the Jazz. Maybe he already should be.