No Donovan? No Mike and Joe? The Utah Jazz show they have the ability to adapt without their big players


When Donovan Mitchell was banned for the last time on Friday night, with only 2:28 left to play, he slammed his hands together in frustration and let out a mild curse word that began with a “d” and ended. ends with “amn”.

Not because Utah Jazz lost, mind you. No, they were leading 21 at the time and were on their way 120-108 win over Minnesota Timberwolves. As it turns out, his frustration is of a slightly more aggressive nature.

“I want to be 40,” Mitchell revealed with a slight shyness. “It’s no secret that I want it. But it didn’t happen. If I take a free throw, you win. So it really depends on me at that point. ”

As a result, the All-Star Guardian had to settle for a The season’s highest is 39 points, and a remarkable 9 to 10 performance on the field, along with a six-footer who made 3 pointers, half a dozen rebounds and five assists.

Seriously – do better, Don.

In fact, the most intriguing part of Mitchell’s prolific scoring night was not how close he was to the desired milestone nor his disappointment in missing it, but him. achieved his season-highest score just hours after discussing how he would certainly play a little differently in the absence of key ball handlers and dispatchers Mike Conley and Joe Ingles, but he needs to know how to resist the temptation to make his game an unusual “12 assists guy”.

As it turns out, each of the Jazz’s past three has been an adjustment exercise, first as the team has to navigate the matches in San Antonio and Portland like Mitchell himself out with a minor back disease, and then Friday, without Conley and Ingles.

Perhaps conversely, coach Quin Snyder thinks it’s not a matter of seismic shifts, but simply a more nuanced recalibration.

“It was less obvious to us,” Snyder said first Blazers game. “You see that in the play situations that Don and Mike can create, so when one of them isn’t playing, that attack tends to propagate itself to us through the others, especially in late-game or late-game situations. If one of them is not on the floor, the matches will change a bit, the way the teams can protect you will change.

“It’s not really something we talk about right now, like ‘Someone has to pick it up,’ so to speak. Our boys feel it,” he added. “… It’s there, it’s more subtle for us. Because we have a lot of players to absorb it. ”

From the coach’s point of view, without Mitchell, Utah could simply put Ingles in the starting line-up, and the burden of scoring as well as the play was relieved a bit.

Against Spurs, six players scored in double figures, led by Jordan Clarkson’s 23. Regarding the ball distribution, Clarkson boosts his support in the top five, and Ingles had three, but Bojan Bogdanovic, Rudy Gobert, Mike Conley, Trent Forrest and Rudy Gay each had two.

In Wednesday’s game against the Blazers, six players scored between 15 and 22 points, while Conley provided six assists, Clarkson another five, Ingles three, and Bogdanovic, Forrest and Royce O’Neale each. contribute two.

Mitchell noticed this trend.

“Three Games I Missed [including Nov. 4 vs. Atlanta], we did a great job just moving the ball,” he said. “You look at the scoring, the shots, it’s beautiful [spread out]. Mike has 10, Joe has 13 – it’s beautiful [well-distributed] in the entire squad. In recent matches, Rudy has been in very low form. Honestly, we did a great job keeping the ball moving and starting to attack. When you have guys like Joe, like JC, Trent, starters, move the ball, have experience, know what they’re doing, know our offense, it’s pretty easy. … I don’t intend to make that habit a habit, but in [that] event, it’s great to know that those people have backed me up. ”

Then, on Friday, it’s time to return the favor. Not exactly the same situations.

Conley’s absence is a planned rest day, with the Jazz gearing up for Saturday’s return game with the Warriors leading the league. However, they could not simply plug Ingles in this time, as he also has a strain in his left back.

Forrest, the second-year point guard on a two-way deal, first received anxiety about the morning siege he would likely begin that night, when Ingles began to attack him. . He received confirmations from several assistant coaches when he arrived at Vivint Arena later that evening.

“Neur-wise, it’s not too bad. I would probably say I’m more excited than anything,” Forrest said afterwards. “Donovan is one of those people who always tell me they trust me. When you have a guy like that saying it, I wouldn’t say it’s not hard [not] nervous, but he makes it easy just come in and do what i do. “

However, there is an inherent understanding that, in such situations, Mitchell would be responsible for the heavy lifting.

He’s upfront about what he’ll try to do differently – or not – depending on the circumstances.

“Mike is very good at going down and having plays in his back pocket. I tried and got that. Ricky [Rubio] like when he was here. Once those guys were out, I tried and accepted myself to move on – not necessarily trying to be them, but trying to find a way to attract the boys into their rightful place, just do the what I’m doing but on a higher level,” says Mitchell. “On a night like tonight, I have to get creative, I have to run plays and make it easier for the boys. … That is my job. And when those people go out, it’s more important that I do it. But don’t put too much pressure [on myself], where I have to be this 12 support guy. I have [done] where before, where I put too much pressure on that. Just go out there and play my game and get it right and start from there. “

For the most part, Jazz was successful at the time.

Forrest’s minutes were a bit adventurous, as he was 15th on the team that night, although Mitchell would later note that he was “very pleased with Trent Forrest and what he did”. The third inning, where the ball’s movement slowed down dramatically, was also something of a disaster, as Utah took just 23 points in an 8 to 21 shoot, while also turning five times.

But if not then…

“We played properly for most of the game,” Gobert said.

On both sides of the ball.

While the Jazz had a relatively muted 18 assists in the game thanks to their massive 41 free throws, it was their defensive efforts that got them the next goal.

Gobert noted that stringing the stops together created transitional opportunities that led to the crucial 22-0 game in the fourth quarter that changed the game. And Snyder, after wondering in advance how Mitchell would handle the rare task of defending the ball for much of the game, then raved about the job the keeper did on the ball. dinner with two of Minnesota’s main scorers, Anthony Edwards and Malik Beasley.

“It was huge when he wanted to have that game, especially with the load he was carrying uncomfortably,” Snyder said.

A year ago, the Jazz’s season took a bright turn when both Mitchell and Conley were in pain at the same time. This week, they’ve taken a few steps to show that, just maybe, they’re a little better equipped to deal with the absence of those players than they are right now.

Not that they like to do it.

“Those guys are the head of the snake,” Forrest said. “…When you don’t have those guys, it becomes a bit more difficult to get a feel for the game.” No Donovan? No Mike and Joe? The Utah Jazz show they have the ability to adapt without their big players

Beth Allcock

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