Jazz Finding New Offensive Balance In Playoffs

May 31, 2021, 7:37 PM
Bojan Bogdanovic - Utah Jazz...
Bojan Bogdanovic #44 of the Utah Jazz shoots the ball against the Indiana Pacers at Bankers Life Fieldhouse on November 27, 2019 in Indianapolis, Indiana. (Photo by Andy Lyons/Getty Images)
(Photo by Andy Lyons/Getty Images)

SALT LAKE CITY, Utah – The Utah Jazz have had to quickly rebalance their offense in the playoffs with Donovan Mitchell back in the lineup.

During Mitchell’s absence, in which guard Mike Conley also missed nine games, forward Bojan Bogdanovic and Sixth Man of the Year Jordan Clarkson saw a dramatic increase in their shots per game.

Over the first 60 games of the season, with either Mitchell or Conley in the lineup, Bogdanovic averaged 12.2 field goal attempts per game. Clarkson meanwhile averaged 15.1 off the bench.

With both All-Star guards off the floor, those numbers climbed to 16.3 attempts per game for Bogdanovic, and 19.1 for Clarkson. After Mitchell was ruled out for game one of the team’s playoff series against the Grizzlies, both Bogdanovic and Clarkson attempted 16 field goals.

However, with Mitchell cleared in games two and three, and Conley seeing increased minutes, the extra shots both Bogdanovic and Clarkson had grown accustomed to were destined to decrease.

With Mitchell earning 25 minutes in game two, Bogdanovic attempted just 13 shots, while Clarkson attempted 11.

In game three, Mitchell saw 30 minutes on the floor, as Bogdanovic’s field goal attempts dropped to eight, and Clarkson’s remained at 11.

After a first half in which Bogdanovic attempted just three field goals, he talked to Conley about wanting to stay more involved in the offense.

“I really talked to Mike to kind of involve me in the third quarter and of the game,” Bogdanovic said. “So when it’s come to the end, I’m able to hit the shots if they double Mike and Donovan.”

As it turns out, Conley listed to Bogdanovic, resulting in seven points on 3-5 shooting during a crucial stretch of the game.

“It was a really great connection with Mike especially,” Bogdanovic said, “But I’ve got to be aggressive.”

Though both Conley and Mitchell were in an offensive groove in the first half, the guards didn’t hesitate to get Bogdanovic involved in the offense in the second half, as long as it came within the balance of the offense.

“You don’t want to get into a situation where you’re choosing whose turn it is for instance if someone hasn’t had a shot in a while,” Jazz coach Quin Snyder said.

“I like to give those guys the freedom to make some of those decisions on their own. We’ve got smart players, and they’re unselfish and when that’s the case, the ball tends to find the open man.”

It’s a testament to the team’s willingness to drop their individual stardom for the betterment of the team. After going scoreless to open the first half of game one, Bogdanovic scored 29 points in the second half of the loss.

In the second half of game two, Bogdanovic attempted only five shots, tied for the fewest of any starter, and the Jazz won.

Then in game three, after his breakout third quarter, the forward failed to record a stat in the final period, despite playing over 10 minutes in the quarter.

It’s a role the forward said he is comfortable with.

“It’s the flow of the game,” Bogdanovic acknowledged. “Mike and Donovan were in a really good mood there in the second half, I was just trying to space and stretch the floor and be there for them.”

The Jazz will continue to search for the perfect balance offensively when they face the Grizzlies in game four.

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