4 Things We’ve Learned About the Jazz in the Bubble
4 things we’ve learned about the Jazz in the Bubble
With seven games under their belt in Orlando’s ‘bubble’, the Utah Jazz have taken their time hitting their straps. Posting a record of two wins and five losses, while the Jazz haven’t been one of the best performing teams in the NBA’s restart, there has been plenty to analyze throughout their seven games.
1. The Jazz need shots from deep to drop - live three or die hard
Jazz bubble losses have been heavily tied to poor shooting nights, particularly from long range. Even in close wins, like the first game against New Orleans, the shooting percentages from deep have been poor.
July 31st vs New Orleans Pelicans: 8-34 from three (23.5%%)
August 02 vs Oklahoma City Thunder: 8-31 from three (25.8%)
August 04 vs Los Angeles Lakers: 12-43 from three (27.9%)
In the loss to OKC, there were some positive takeaways, including improved ball movement. Increased activity and offensive energy meant the ball was constantly in motion, but the three-point attempts at the end of the possession simply weren’t dropping. Utah shot 43 threes against the Lakers two nights later, but simply couldn’t buy a basket.
Take this play, where Jordan Clarkson draws defenders on a drive inside, fires it out to Emmanuel Mudiay who misses the three. It’s a good set, but doesn’t result in points.
Having creators like Donovan Mitchell, Mike Conley, Joe Ingles, Mudiay and Clarkson out there is deadly on offense, but only when teammates can get their long-range shots to go down.
The next four games for Utah were more productive, and the Jazz saw the three-ball dropping with more regularity.
August 06 vs Memphis Grizzlies: 18-45 from three (40.0 %)
August 08 vs San Antonio Spurs: 16-37 from three (43.2 %)
August 09 vs Denver Nuggets: 22-55 from three (40.0 %)
August 10 vs Dallas Mavericks: 21-46 from three (45.7 %)
Bojan Bogdanović’s absence is being felt on a multitude of levels. Outside of Mitchell exploding with a big game, the Jazz offense is looking rather listless.
With an added reliance on the three-point shot, with 41.6 attempts per game in Orlando versus 34.4 per game prior to the Covid-19 outbreak, Utah needs shots to fall.
With teams converging on Rudy Gobert and Mitchell in the paint, Jazz shooters must knock down their great looks, otherwise this trip to Orlando will end with a first-round exit.
2. An aggressive Joe Ingles is crucial
Bogdanović - Utah’s second leading scorer - is not returning to action this year. Other players will need to step up and raise their aggressiveness on taking their shots in the Croatian’s absence.
Of the players needing to look for their shot more, Ingles is perhaps the one who can contribute most to a deep playoff run for the Jazz. While the Australian is incredibly adept as a playmaker, leading the team with 5.2 assists per game, Utah has needed him to shoot the ball more.
After attempting 11 three-point shots in the first three games in Orlando combined, Ingles exploded for 25 points on 7 of 13 shooting from the field and 6 of 11 from deep. Adding four assists and five assists, Ingles’ scoring mark was two points off his career high of 27.
In the eight games this season where the 32-year old Aussie scored 20 or more points, Utah only lost twice, both by single digit margins.
After Ingles’ big night against the Nuggets in Orlando,, Jazz players like Mike Conley were quick to highlight the importance of such a performance.
“We want him to shoot the open shot, to make plays, because he’s one of our better playmakers out there,” Conley said “We’ve just got to continue to give him opportunities, continue to look at him at different points of the game and say, ‘Hey, Joe it’s on you, you got it,’ and let him go, because he’s a big piece, especially with Bojan being out.”
Whether it’s being more aggressive in the pick-and-roll, or hunting three-point shots in the fourth quarter (like the one below), Ingles’ aggression is paramount to Utah’s success.
3. Utah’s young bench can hang
The Jazz sat four starters against the Spurs in the Bubble, taking a page right out of San Antonio head coach Gregg Popovich’s book. This put big pressure on Utah’s relatively untested bench. The kids did quite well.
Alongside Ingles, Jazz coach Quin Snyder started reserves Mudiay, Georges Niang, Ed Davis and 23-year old rookie Miye Oni. Oni had played less than ten minutes in his first season for the Jazz, but contributed 14 points and seven rebounds in just over 30 minutes in a competitive game in the Bubble.
Jarrell Brantley also played quite well, recording eight points, six rebounds, three assists, two steals and one block. Big man Tony Bradley impressed as well, dropping 15 points and grabbing 11 rebounds for a double-double, along with three blocks, two assists and one steal.
In Mitchell’s absence against the Mavericks, Rayjon Tucker played a season high 28 minutes, and finished with a career-high 17 points on 4-7 shooting, showing
Neither Oni, Brantley or Tucker figure to see much playing time during the playoffs, but looking forward to next season and beyond, having young talent is a massive boom for the Jazz.
However, with a thin rotation in Bogdanović’s absence, you never know - there may be times in the playoffs where Utah’s young talent may need to play some key minutes. Despite limited action before the season went on hiatus, they’re showing coach Snyder that they can be called upon.
With the starters health and energy pivotal to a deep playoff run for Utah, don’t be surprised to see the Jazz youth lead the way in their last seeding game against the Spurs.
4. Mitchell needs to keep cooking like he did against Denver
Donovan Mitchell was simply outstanding in Utah’s double-OT loss to the Nuggets. Despite posting a less than glamorous 12-33 from the field and 5-16 from deep, the young star was dynamite in the clutch.
“Spida” posted 24 points in the last quarter, including five points in the final ten seconds of regulation and eight points in the first overtime had Mitchell willing his team back into the game, and put the Jazz in several winnable positions.
Whether it was turnaround jumpers from deep, snaking his way to the rim or hitting free-throw line jumpers, some of the shots Mitchell was hitting had Kevin Harlan understandably excited.
In Orlando, Mitchell’s developing passing game has continued to also lead to highlights. Late in the loss to the Lakers, Mitchell does an incredible job getting to the rim, before firing out a bullet assist to Mike Conley who graciously drained the three-point shot.
As the 23-year old continues to make the right decisions between finding his teammates and taking over scoring the basketball, the Jazz will always be in with a chance if their young superstar in the making is firing.