Well, the Memphis Grizzlies have more basketball. And without Jaren Jackson Jr., it’s for better or for worse. The short-handed Grizzlies will look to snap its shooting woes against another struggling team, the Utah Jazz. Missing Bojan Bogdanovic, a 20.2-point scorer and 41.4% 3-point three, the Jazz desperately miss his scoring punch, and it’s showing in their putrid offensive numbers.
However, it should still be fun. We have the Grizzlies’ past vs. the Grizzlies’ present/future, as we witness a Mike Conley, Ja Morant battle it out. To prepare for this matchup, I chatted with Nathan De La Cruz of SB Nation’s SLC Dunk to talk about today’s game.
A year later, what are your thoughts on the Mike Conley trade?
I think I can admit that I had overhyped how effective Mike would be on this Jazz team, like a lot of Jazz fans I’m sure. But I will also say that as the season has progressed this year I am pleased with the character and determination that Mike has shown in making himself become more effective and look more comfortable with each passing game. It’s easy to see why Memphis Grizzlies fans think so highly of Mike. He is a class act and I love the way that he has carried himself in the face of all the pressure that he has faced to perform at an unrealistically high level.
In terms of just dollars and sense regarding the trade I am still happy that we traded for him. A lot of Jazz fans, including myself really connected with Jae Crowder and loved his game but I feel like Mike is really going to be an invaluable leader for the Jazz come playoff time and I for one can’t wait to see him perform at a high level when that time comes.
Do you make anything out of the Gobert/Mitchell tension?
I don’t make much of it. I am not saying there is not any but I really do believe them when they say that they have moved on. If they haven’t then they are doing a pretty good job of faking it, because based on their interaction on the court and on social media it looks like they are in a good place. I think what happened March probably boiled down to a group of players/coaches on the team had asked Rudy not to take the virus and their health lightly and Rudy probably scoffed at that to some degree. So then when the microphone incident happened it just spilled out into what we saw publicly.
I also think that Rudy might have been a little bit bitter about the fact that he wasn’t getting enough touches and that is why he was inclined to not listen to his teammates when they asked him to take the virus seriously. So to sum it all up, there definitely was tension but I would be surprised if it is still there.
Without Bogdonavic out, who do see stepping up for the Jazz?
It’s hard to answer that question because we don’t really have anyone that is as skilled as Bogdanovic at that position, but I think Joe Ingles can make the most difference for our team in his absence. Joe has been relatively quite since the restart and I think if the Jazz are going to surprise anybody for the remainder of the season then Joe is going to have to be a big part of that. He is already a jack of all trades for the Jazz but I think he is going to be most needed for his shooting ability since we have struggled so much with that in our first three games back.
Which matchup are you looking forward to the most?
I am intrigued by Donovan Mitchell vs. Brandon Clarke. I think Donovan was pretty upset about the game in November when he felt that he was fouled at the end and should have had free throws, so it will be interesting to watch that one because Brandan Clarke is a very good player and will be hard for Donovan to handle even if he is playing with a little bit of a chip on his shoulder. However, I think I am most excited for Conley vs. Morant just because Morant is so good already, looking like a solid choice for rookie of the year, but Conley is more comfortable now and he is not facing his old team in Memphis he might experience more jitters. So it will be very interesting to see how those two player fare against each other on Wednesday.
I think it will be a close, grind it out type of game but I think the Jazz will pull away at the end and win 105-98. The game won’t be secured until the last 45 seconds to a minute of the game though.
Thank you, Nathan, for joining us for this edition of 5 Questions. Be sure to follow SLC Dunk for the best Jazz coverage.