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Jazz mailbag: Lineups without Bojan Bogdanovic, team chemistry, lottery shake ups and NBA playoff formats

SHARE Jazz mailbag: Lineups without Bojan Bogdanovic, team chemistry, lottery shake ups and NBA playoff formats

Utah Jazz guard Donovan Mitchell (45), Utah Jazz forward Bojan Bogdanovic (44) and Utah Jazz guard Joe Ingles (2) celebrate a basket near the end of the game against the Dallas Mavericks in Salt Lake City on Saturday, Jan. 25, 2020. The Jazz won 112-107.

Jeffrey D. Allred, Deseret News

SALT LAKE CITY — It’s been a while since we just talked about basketball.

I know that we’ve talked about the NBA, and all of the talks that commissioner Adam Silver is having with teams and the league’s plans to resume play, but we haven’t talked about actual basketball.

Since it seems like we aren’t far away from the league announcing its plan to resume, I thought it would be a good time to get back to a good ol’ fashioned run of the mill mailbag article.

It’s possible that we aren’t going to see regular season games played. If that’s the case then I wouldn’t expect for Quin Snyder to expand his rotations very much even in the absence of Bojan Bogdanovic, who is out for the rest of the season after right wrist surgery.

Playoff rotations are always tighter and coaches want to have their best players on the floor for longer so I would think that we’ll just end up seeing extended minutes from the guys in the starting unit — Donovan Mitchell, Rudy Gobert, Mike Conley, Royce O’Neale, and Joe Ingles — as well as reserves Jordan Clarkson and Georges Niang.

That’s not to say that there won’t be tinkering and that Snyder won’t try out a handful of minutes from others, but I wouldn’t expect the Jazz to start making drastic lineup changes, especially during playoff ball.

This is actually what concerns me more than any sort of lineup maneuvering. If games start at the end of July, the players will have been away from the game for 20 weeks. That’s longer than the normal time between the NBA Finals and when rookie camps and training camp picks up.

This is a very unusual situation and recapturing the same kind of chemistry and rhythm that a team had midseason and going straight into playoff basketball is going to be extremely difficult, especially considering the strange environment that they will be playing in.

Add in the loss of one of the starters and premier scorers on the team (Bogdanovic) and that is definitely a hard pill to swallow.

The silver lining is that every team is going to be rusty and have a hard time getting everything working like a well-oiled machine right out of the gate. It won’t just be the Jazz that are contending with the difficulties of the situation.

There are a lot of ways the NBA could go about this and I’m sure that it’ll be something that is discussed and decided upon before the National Basketball Players Association (NBPA) agrees to a postseason format.

If the play-in tournament is going to be played for just the 8th seed, the NBA could expand the lottery to include the 8th seed. If the tournament is played for 7th and 8th, the NBA could expand the lottery to both seeds and level out the ping pong ball combinations very slightly in order to accommodate two or four more teams. It really wouldn’t change the percentages more than a half percent and there wouldn’t be much incentive to tank rather than play postseason ball, especially if they made the odds the same for the added teams.

If they’re going to mic the court, ESPN, TNT, and ABC are going to have one heck of a job working the bleep button on their tape delay, which is only a handful of seconds.

I too am really looking forward to live basketball and am just hoping that everyone is able to stay safe and healthy.

The majority of general managers seem to be interested in the idea of a play-in tournament for the bottom seeds in each conference, which is what Damian Lillard said would be perfect and there are a number of players that feel the same way.

Lillard recently aired his feelings, saying that if he didn’t have a chance at the playoffs but the NBA wanted all 30 teams to show up in Orlando and play a handful of meaningless games that he wouldn’t do it. Believe me, the NBA listens when its stars say things like this.

This is not the first time that a play-in tournament has been considered by the NBA and it certainly won’t be the last.

There’s always a chance that the NBA will just run with the standard 16-team playoff field, but it does sound like the play-in tournament is gaining traction as the NBA nears its final decision.

I don’t think that the NBA is going to pass up on the opportunity to have stars like Lillard and the Pelicans’ Zion Williamson play in some sort of postseason tournament, so my money would be on a tournament happening and Lillard playing.