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Why the Jazz’s final preseason warm-up against the Bucks provided an epiphany

Watching the way the defending champs conducted their business is something Jazz players like Donovan Mitchell hope to emulate

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Utah Jazz’s Jordan Clarkson, left, runs past Milwaukee forward Khris Middleton at Vivint Arena in Salt Lake City.

Utah Jazz’s Jordan Clarkson, left, runs past Milwaukee forward Khris Middleton during preseason game at Vivint Arena in Salt Lake City on Wednesday, Oct. 13, 2021.

Shafkat Anowar, Deseret News

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The Utah Jazz finished up their preseason slate with a win over the Milwaukee Bucks on Wednesday night. The reigning NBA champion Milwaukee Bucks.

There’s not really anything to take away from a preseason win. These teams aren’t playing their hardest, there are main rotational players that are resting, and end-of-rotation players are given extended minutes.

But, playing the Bucks in the final preseason game, was actually quite lucky for the Jazz. The Bucks have been where the Jazz want to be. They’re a small-market team that is sitting atop the NBA throne and there are things the Jazz can learn from how the Bucks got to where they are.

The one thing that sticks out to Donovan Mitchell about the Bucks journey to an NBA title is how every individual player accepted their role and were superstars in the little things that were expected of them.

After Wednesday’s game, Mitchell explained how that example should fuel the Jazz to replicate it.

“You watch how guys were stars in their exact role,” Mitchell said. “You watch how guys were able to do things for the sake of winning the game. That’s something that I really noticed. And even tonight, the way they speak to each other, the way they go out there on the court, the way they are talking about things and it’s a preseason game. You feel like they’ve been on that journey and that’s where ultimately, that’s our goal and I think that’s what this year is about — communicating with each other, understanding each other, understanding what we do exactly, and being great at it.”

There aren’t often major takeaways from the preseason. Most of the lessons that a team will learn about itself comes during the regular season, but if the Jazz can be motivated at all by its final preseason contest, then it is most definitely worth it.

New with the Jazz

Stat of the week

Through the preseason, there is a Utah Jazz forward that has led the league in 3-point percentage and it’s not who you would expect.

Malik Fitts shot 5-of-6 from 3-point range through the preseason for a league-leading 83.3% clip. Fitts is not likely to be on the Jazz’s full roster, but he could possibly land the Jazz’s final two-way deal, or play for the SLC Stars.

This week on ‘Unsalvageable’

Check out “Unsalvageable: A Utah Jazz Podcast,” hosted by Deseret News Utah Jazz beat reporter Sarah Todd and lifelong Jazz fan Greg Foster (no, not that Greg Foster). This week, the crew recaps the first two preseason games and talks about news around the NBA.

New episodes come out every week. You can listen on Apple Podcasts, Spotify, Stitcher, Overcast and anywhere else you stream podcasts.

From the archives

This week in Jazz history

On Oct. 11, 1987, Mike Conley was born. The Utah Jazz guard celebrated his 34th birthday this week and is under contract with the Jazz through the 2023-24 season, in which he will turn 36.

Extra points

  • Dwyane Wade’s son reportedly set to join Utah Jazz’s G League team (Deseret News)
  • Jazz waive Derrick Alston Jr., Marques Bolden, MaCio Teague. What’s next for Malik Fitts? (Deseret News)
  • With preseason games behind them, Jazz have work to do (The Athletic)
  • Dwyane Wade says ‘the perception of Utah is not our reality’ (Salt Lake Tribune)

Around the league

The Brooklyn Nets are not going to let Kyrie Irving be a part-time participant.

Ben Simmons surprised the Philadelphia 76ers by showing up unannounced.

The Boston Celtics had two players test positive for COVID-19 in the preseason.

Up next

Oct. 20 | 7 p.m. | Utah Jazz vs. Oklahoma City Thunder | AT&T SportsNet

Oct. 22 | 7 p.m. | Utah Jazz @ Sacramento Kings | AT&T SportsNet

Oct. 26 | 8 p.m. | Utah Jazz vs. Denver Nuggets | TNT

Oct. 28 | 7 p.m. | Utah Jazz @ Houston Rockets | AT&T SportsNet

Oct. 30 | 7 p.m. | Utah Jazz @ Chicago Bulls | AT&T SportsNet

Oct. 31 | 6 p.m. | Utah Jazz @ Milwaukee Bucks | NBATV