The Utah Jazz are visiting San Antonio to take on the Spurs without Donovan Mitchell.
Donovan Mitchell will not travel with the Jazz on their coming two-game trip. He is OUT with a left low back strain and will remain in SLC for treatment.— Eric Walden (@tribjazz) December 26, 2021
It may not be as difficult because it looks like DeJounte Murray won’t be suiting up for the Spurs.
Dejounte Murray (H&S protocols) and Zach Collins are both listed as OUT for tonight’s game against the Jazz. Everyone else is good to go at this point, per team.— Matthew Tynan (@Matthew_Tynan) December 27, 2021
The Jazz have been mostly unscathed by injuries this season and with the Spurs down their best player, they should be able to handle the Spurs with Mike Conley and Rudy Gobert leading the team.
Even though the Jazz have been on a good trajectory win-wise, they’ve been closer than they should be against some of the weaker/injured opponents than they should have. They struggled with the Dallas Mavericks minus half their team and they lost to this Spurs team the last time they played. The real issue is that Utah needs to prove they can play high level defense for 48 minutes against teams that can take advantage of the midrange. Utah is one of the worst ranking teams in the league at midrange percentage allowed. Some of that is by design to run teams off the 3-point line and into their high level rim protectors, Rudy Gobert and Hassan Whiteside. But at some point the Jazz have to prove they can do more than run players off the line and can actually stay in front of their man. Although with the roster they have that may be an impossible ask.
Like every game this season, the goal is to avoid injury and rest the starters as much as possible. Utah has done a pretty good job of keeping minutes low for their starters but it would be nice to get a big lead and allow some of their end of the bench players can get some run. At some point I would like to see Jared Butler get some minutes, for example. One, because it would mean the Jazz have a nice lead. And two, I would like to see Jared Butler play and develop.
Knowing Quin Snyder, it’s probably a lock that Joe Ingles will start in this game. But with his level of defense lately, it might be time to start thinking of other options. Can the Jazz play someone like Eric Paschall to start and have a more defensive focused lineup? That type of move would bring more size and mobility on the defensive end. At some point Snyder is going to have to think about his lineups and what the overall goal is. Is it just to overwhelm teams with offensive output? Or is it for a more well-rounded team that actually considers defense to be important? Over the coarse of the year, we’ll see.