The Utah Jazz are back in action today as they take on the Denver Nuggets. We have another matinee game—thankfully during the weekend making it easier for those of us with full-time jobs to cover. The Utah Jazz should have most of their lineup back to play in this back to back game. Donovan Mitchell is questionable as he’s dealing with a left peroneal strain. It’s just that type of year for the Utah Jazz.
Yesterday the Jazz
tanked threw the white flag lost to the San Antonio Spurs as they trotted out this year’s Salt Lake City Stars lineup alongside Jordan Clarkson and Joe Ingles. The Utah Jazz look to be avoiding a matchup with the Oklahoma City Thunder and Houston Rockets at all costs. A higher seed means very little when there is no crowd nor travel benefits. The Jazz seem to realizing that as they forego battling for a higher seed and instead are looking for a better matchup. The Denver Nuggets appear to be the team they’re setting their sights on for battling in the playoffs. Today’s game could be a good look at why Utah wants to fall into that matchup.
The Denver Nuggets will finally have their premier guard Jamal Murray back in the lineup. He’ll be rusty, but he’ll be a welcome sight for Nuggets fans as they’ve been starved for guards. (There’s an alternate universe where mixing up the Nuggets and Jazz rosters you can get two evenly matched and balanced championship teams, but I digress.) The Jazz won’t be fully interested in winning this one if they’re trying to fall and stay in the 6th seed matchups.
When: Saturday, August 8th 2020 • 1:30 PM MT
Where: The NBA Bubble, Disney World
TV: TNT, AT&T Sports Net Rocky Mountain
Radio: 97.5 FM | 1280 AM The Zone
What to watch for
Mike Conley continuing to look like the Conley of old
Mike Conley has been a beast in the Bubble. He looks to be continuing his good play from March in the Bubble. Since being in Orlando, Conley has been averaging 19.7 points on 38.1% from three while getting to the line 5.7 times a game. He actually hasn’t missed from the line yet. He’s averaging 6.3 assists and 3.0 rebounds. His turnovers are up per game, but other than that he’s been great on the court. If Donovan is out today, the Jazz will need everything they can from Conley.
Where art thou, Clarkson? Bench?
The Utah Jazz’s bench has been a trainwreck. The move of Ingles into the starting lineup and Clarkson’s shooting woes has been a terrible combination. Add in Bradley looking out of sorts, Niang playing the same iffy defense, and Mudiay doing what Mudiay does best (which we’re still trying to actually figure out what he does best) and you got a putrid bench. Clarkson being terrible has been the most worrying part. He’s shooting 32.3% from the field and 29.6% from three. He’s a mess. He’s taking more shots a game and missing more shots a game. His assists are down, rebounding is down, and defensively he’s not getting as many assists.
There is some hope. In the game against the Spurs, Clarkson was 4-9 from three and 8-18 from the field. He finished with 24 points and actually appeared to be taken out from the game as he was allowing Utah a chance of upsetting the Spurs yesterday. He had 4 assists and was a +4 while in the game.
Tony Bradley was a +10 while in the game. He had 15 points and 10 rebounds with 3 blocks. The Jazz through out Ed Davis yesterday in their monthly “Does Ed Davis have the juice” attempt and he only lasted 11 minutes. Tony Bradley looked great. Other Jazz players like Juwan Morgan and Miye Oni looked good. Emmanuel Mudiay—on the other hand—still looks rough. He was 4-13 and airballed his only three point attempt. He had 5 assists to 1 turnover but just seems to play faster than his ability to read the game allows.
Georges Niang was rough again. He was 3-11 from the field but he had 8 rebounds and 2 assists. When Niang is hitting from long range he’s a weapon, but he’s reverting back to the days of when he was either a huge liability due to his shot not falling or just a regular liability because he still is iffy on defense. Bogdanovic’s injury becomes more apparent the more minutes Niang receives from his absence.
In other good news, Joe ingles was 4-8 from the field and 4-6 from three. He also was benched early as he and Jordan Clarkson were throwing a wrench in Utah’s tank efforts. Even Tony Bradley was thrown to the pine as he was aiding their efforts. Hopefully yesterday’s game allowed Utah to get a good idea of who they’d like to fill those backup minutes on the wing.
One X-Factor is Jarrell Brantley. He was 3 for 8 and played amazing defense on Rudy Gay and DeMar DeRozan. That type of defense and length is something no one on the Utah Jazz can replicate. One has to wonder if Utah will throw him out there today to see if he can do some work against Denver’s size as a test for some of the star wings Utah will have to face in the playoffs. At this point, it can’t hurt.
Sidenote: Thanks for being patient with us with a no game thread yesterday. The mix of working at home, taking care of kids, pandemic, and then matinee games definitely is throwing a wrench in a lot of our routines. Hopefully, the playoffs will allow us to get back into a proper groove. Stay safe out there, wear a mask, and #TakeNote.