The Utah Jazz are back in the playoffs and they’re facing the Denver Nuggets. Unfortunately they’ll start the series without two key offseason additions in Mike Conley and Bojan Bogdanovic.
The Jazz made two major moves last summer to improve their chances to contend: trading for Mike Conley and signing Bojan Bogdanovic. They won't have either player when the playoffs begin. https://t.co/1djjgdK1Kn— Tim MacMahon (@espn_macmahon) August 16, 2020
Everyone is happy for Mike Conley and he is doing the right thing by being with his son. In terms of basketball, it will make the task of beating the Nuggets without him even more difficult.
Conley has been playing exceptional basketball post all-star break and has been a consistent secondary scorer in the absence of Bojan Bogdanovic. Can the Jazz overcome missing Conley for what is likely at least 2 games?
When: Monday, August 17, 2020 • 1:30 PM MT
Where: The NBA Bubble, Disney World
TV: ESPN, AT&T SportsNet
Radio: 97.5 FM | 1280 AM The Zone
What to watch for
How does Donovan Mitchell look leading the offense at point guard?
Mike Conley was a big part of the Utah Jazz offense this season. He provided a secondary scoring option and was great at keeping the offense flowing. With him out, we’re going to see a lot of Donovan Mitchell at point guard.
And that’s a good thing.
Stranger things have happened, but it’s not likely that Utah wins the title this year. Without Conley, Utah gets a perfect chance to see how Mitchell does handling the majority of playmaking opportunities. It’s likely going to be at least two games without Conley and so Mitchell gets multiple chances to show that he can be the main ballhandler for the future.
At a minimum, Conley will miss G1 and 2. https://t.co/8LHf1e3422— Bobby Marks (@BobbyMarks42) August 16, 2020
One of the issues Utah has run into this season is that they’re a smaller lineup with an athletic disadvantage with older players on the floor like Conley and Joe Ingles. With Conley out, Snyder can put a bigger, more athletic player on the floor like Miye Oni or Jarrell Brantley.
He may put Jordan Clarkson on the floor, but it would be nice to see how Mitchell does as the offensive focal point surrounded by size, athleticism and shooting.
The worst case scenario is it doesn’t work, but these are basically free passes to try it. Utah isn’t expected to win these games, so why not try it?
The best case scenario is Donovan Mitchell goes nuts and the size and athleticism on the floor improves Utah’s defense. It will be fascinating to see what happens.
How does Rudy Gobert do against Nikola Jokic?
This is the premier matchup of the series. Jokic has gotten his numbers this season while playing the Jazz, but that has been a little overblown. When Rudy has guarded him this year he’s done a good job.
So I was listening to @BillSimmons and @ryenarussillo briefly mention the Utah/Denver game and talked about how amazing Jokic was so I just rewatched it and recorded what happened with each time Jokic had a scoring opportunity while being guarded by Gobert. pic.twitter.com/JthC7hMN0R— James Hansen (@hansenjames) August 12, 2020
The most important thing for Utah in this series is making sure that Gobert is on the floor every minute that Jokic is, and that Gobert CAN’T switch off of him. Denver is going to do everything they can to switch Gobert off of Jokic and get Jokic easy buckets inside against smaller defenders.
If Utah can keep Gobert on Jokic and stay disciplined on cutters, they have a good chance in this series.
It’s playoff again, let’s see if the Jazz can beat all the expectations again this year!