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Gobert a DPOY Finalist, Mitchell Questionable, Teams Mad At Jazz

Utah Jazz center Rudy Gobert (27) blocks the shot by Dallas Mavericks guard Delon Wright (55) at Vivint Arena in Salt Lake City on Saturday, Jan. 25, 2020. The Jazz won 112-107. (Jeffrey D. Allred, Deseret News)

SALT LAKE CITY, Utah – Rudy Gobert will have the opportunity to win his third consecutive Defensive Player of the Year Award. Gobert was named one of three DPOY finalists by the NBA when the league announced the finalist for each major award category on Saturday.

Milwaukee Bucks forward Giannis Antetokounmpo and Los Angeles Lakers forward Anthony Davis join Gobert as finalists for the DPOY award. Gobert would join former Orlando Magic center Dwight Howard as the only player in NBA history to win the award in three consecutive seasons.

Voting was based on the performance of each player before the NBA season resumed in Orlando. The winner will be announced later in the NBA playoffs on a TNT broadcast.

Mitchell Questionable Versus Nuggets

Donovan Mitchell is listed as questionable in the latest Jazz injury report ahead of their matchup with the Denver Nuggets. Mitchell, along with Gobert, forward Royce O’Neale, and guard Mike Conley missed the Jazz matchup on Friday against the San Antonio Spurs.

Conley and Gobert weren’t mentioned in Saturday’s pregame injury report. O’Neale was listed as probably as he deals with right calf soreness. Mitchell remained questionable as he deals with a left peroneal strain.

The Jazz are believed to be attempting to drop to the sixth seed in the NBA’s playoff chase in order to avoid both the Houston Rockets and Oklahoma City Thunder in the first round of the postseason. The Jazz currently sit in the fifth seed, half a game ahead of the Thunder.

Teams Mad at Jazz

According to ESPN’s Adrian Wojnarowski, some Western Conference Playoff hopefuls were unhappy about the Jazz decision to sit players against the Spurs. For the first time, the NBA is hosting a series of play-in games between the eighth and ninth seed in the Western Conference for the final playoff spot.

The Jazz loss propelled the Spurs ahead of the New Orleans Hornets and Phoenix Suns into the 10th seed, one game behind the ninth-seeded Portland Trailblazers.

According to ESPN:

“Among teams trying to catch the Memphis Grizzlies for the eighth seed, they were somewhere between displeased and livid sources said” 

“The Jazz violated none of the league’s resting rules with Gobert, and properly documented injuries to four more starters, but the optics of the starting five sitting out in an eminently winnable game against the Spurs were harsh.”

The Jazz will face the Spurs in their final seeding game Thursday. The game could determine the final standings ahead of the play-in tournament.

Coach Quin Snyder downplayed the gamesmanship involved in the Jazz decision to rest players against San Antonio.

“If there’s an expectation that we play hurt players on back to back I don’t think that’s realistic,” Snyder said. “I think everybody’s going to do what’s best for them.”

The Jazz and Nuggets tip-off at 1:30 pm MT. The game will be broadcast nationally on TNT and locally on AT&T SportsNet.