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Utah Jazz take on the Denver Nuggets in Game 1 of the NBA Playoffs

Can the Jazz overcome the loss of Mike Conley?

Utah Jazz v Denver Nuggets Photo by Kevin C. Cox/Getty Images

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.

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?

Game Info

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.

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.

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!