Jazz Dodge Tanking Conversation, Focus On Reserves Vs. Spurs
SALT LAKE CITY, Utah – If Utah Jazz fans were expecting to get a thorough explanation on why the team is sitting four of their five available staters for their matchup with the San Antonio Spurs, they are out of luck. During pregame availability, coach Quin Snyder wouldn’t elaborate on whether there was strategy involved in the Jazz resting players.
“I don’t go into our injury report that’s for our sports performance guys,” Snyder said of his depleted roster. “Certainly, the guys during this stretch are going to have nicks. And our hope is that they’re back and we’re in a good place as we move forward.”
On Thursday, the Jazz announced Mike Conley, Donovan Mitchell, and Royce O’Neale would miss the game with minor injuries. Center Rudy Gobert will sit out due to rest. With Bojan Bogdanovic sidelined by season-ending wrist surgery, only starter Joe Ingles will be available for the Jazz. Ingles has played in 399 straight games dating back to December 18, 2015 against the Denver Nuggets.
In their place, Miye Oni, Joe Ingles, Georges Niang, Tony Bradley, and Ed Davis will start.
Jazz Injury Report:
Mike Conley – OUT (right knee soreness)
Rudy Gobert – OUT (rest)
Donovan Mitchell – OUT (left peroneal strain)
Royce O’Neale – OUT (right calf soreness)
Nigel Williams-Goss – OUT (left ankle sprain)
Joe Ingles – AVAILABLE (right foot soreness)
— utahjazz (@utahjazz) August 6, 2020
The most logical theory is that the Jazz are putting themselves in a position to lose games in order to find a more beneficial first-round matchup against a specific opponent, likely the Denver Nuggets. The Jazz currently sit in the fifth seed in the Western Conference and would face the Houston Rockets if the playoffs started today. The Rockets have been one of the more impressive teams in the NBA bubble, and have eliminated the Jazz in back to back playoff meetings.
Though the Jazz have yet to beat the Nuggets this season, the two matchups have been close-fought. Comparing strengths, the Jazz appear to combat Denver more equally than either the Rockets or the Oklahoma City Thunder. If Denver can hold onto the West’s third seed, the Jazz can curate the first-round matchup by slipping to sixth.
The Jazz face the Nuggets on Saturday.
Opportunty for Jazz Second Unit Againt Spurs
It’s no secret the Jazz second unit has strugged in Orlando. Clarkson, Niang, Mudiay, and Tony Bradley have all seen signifiant statistical dips in efficieny over the last four games.
Clarkson, Niang, and Mudiay are shooting a combined 14 percent from the three point. Bradley has seen his field goal percentage drop while struggling with foul trouble.
“We’ve been the top catching shoot team in the league,” Snyder said of the Jazz first 64 games of the season. “We’re probably last right now at the bubble.”
— utahjazz (@utahjazz) August 4, 2020
The Jazz shot better thatn 40 percent during the first 64 games of the season, a full percentage point aboove the second-ranked Miami Heat. In Orlando, that number has dipped to 29.1, second worst in the league. Despite the struggles, Snyder hasn’t lost faith in his roster.
“There’s going to be some games where you get hot just like there’s other games you get cold,” Snyder said. “I think it’s also analogous you know to that bench group with [Clarkson] and Joe and George and Tony. That group has been terrific all season.”
The Jazz and Spurs tipoff at 11 am MT. The game will be broadcast on AT&T SportsNet.
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