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Jazz mailbag: Grading Juwan Morgan and explaining the NBA’s return-to-bubble protocol

Utah Jazz’ Juwan Morgan (16) is assisted by teammate Miye Oni after coming down hard on his knee after a rebound against the San Antonio Spurs in the fourth quarter of an NBA basketball game Friday, Aug. 7, 2020, in Lake Buena Vista, Fla.
Kevin C. Cox/Pool photo via Associated Press

SALT LAKE CITY — They NBA playoffs have begun!

The Denver Nuggets beat the Utah Jazz 135-125 on Monday to take a 1-0 lead in the first round of the best-of-seven series.

Mike Conley left the bubble on Sunday morning to be with his wife, Mary, who gave birth to the couples’ third son. In Conley’s place, rookie Juwan Morgan started for the Jazz. That’s where this week’s mailbag begins.

‘What grade do you give Juwan Morgan in his first start for the playoffs?” — @dalpal2

I knew of Morgan’s skill set, what the Jazz have seen in him and the possibilities he opens up with his size and ability to shoot from long range. All that being said, I was shocked at how well he played on Monday.

What an incredible example of what can happen when a player gets a chance to play competitively, surrounded by experienced and talented teammates. Morgan’s defensive versatility and his hustle were on full display. He was diving out of bounds for loose balls, grappling and fighting for rebounds, forcing turnovers, contesting shots and showing range.

He only made one shot in the game, a left corner 3-pointer, but the fact that the Jazz are confident in him taking that shot and want him to do it as much as he can is such a good sign.

Being a rookie — who played less than 50 NBA minutes before starting in a playoff game — and having a positive impact to the tune of a plus-17 for the day was great. There were a couple of times that he over-helped and let guys get open on cuts into the paint, and he went 1 of 5 on shooting, those are the only bad marks I can give him. I think all things considered, I’d give him an A-.

“Why Snyder took so long to call a timeout? There was a need to break Murray’s momentum, the lead was growing, 3 turnovers and an inefficient defense.” — @sruruca

These situations can always be so much better in hindsight.

You could also argue that before those consecutive turnovers, Donovan Mitchell had been in one of the best grooves of any player ever. It was totally in the realm of possibility that the Jazz would rebound from a couple minutes of mental lapses and get back into it. Mitchell was still finding open looks but missed a couple. Taking a break could have broken his momentum.

Sure, looking back now it’s easy to say that the opposite was true, that the game had gotten away from Mitchell and that Jamal Murray was taking over, but flow of the game is hard to determine in real time and the Jazz also trust their defense.

Not only that, but in a close game, it’s a game of chess choosing when to use timeouts. Those can end up being the difference in the very final seconds so it can be a pick your poison sort of situation, as many things are during the game.

“What is the protocol for (Mike Conley) to return?” — @ijl77

Conley is required to quarantine for four days before rejoining the Jazz. The way the protocol works is not based on hours of the day, but rather the number of COVID-19 tests returned.

So since Conley returned to the NBA bubble on Monday night in time to take a COVID-19 test, he will be able to rejoin the Jazz on Friday when the results of his fourth test are available, provided that every test comes back negative.

The earlier he tests on Thursday, the better chance he has of getting his results back before the Jazz play Game 3 at 2 p.m. MDT on Friday.

“I know (Joe) Ingles has a child on the way when is his due? Will he miss some games as well?” — @WesMcMurdie

Conley’s wife’s due date was Aug. 27, so while the early arrival of his son was a bit of a surprise, the Jazz had anticipated that Conley would miss some time in order to be with her.

Ingles’ wife, Renae, is also pregnant but is not due until November.

“This is off topic and probably a stupid question. But what are the arenas that the NBA are playing in usually used for? #JazzPlayoffMailbag” — @HaasCorey

First of all, this is not a stupid question at all.

The arenas at the ESPN Wide World of Sports Complex are used for a wide variety of events. From dance and cheer events, Amateur Athletic Union and college basketball tournaments, volleyball tournaments and the annual Jr. NBA Global Championship to even roller hockey

If you would like to have your question answered, you can send it to me at stodd@deseretnews.com with “mailbag” in the subject line, or you can send it to me via Twitter @NBASarah. During the playoffs, use the hashtag, #JazzPlayoffMailBag.

A mailbag article will be published at Deseret.com weekly answering many of the submitted questions, and I save some special ones specifically for the newsletter readers.