After dropping three straight games and eight of their past 12, the Utah Jazz are set to shake up their lineup, moving Aussie Joe Ingles back to the bench.
Per The Athletic's Shams Charania and Tony Jones, Royce O'Neale will return to the starting lineup for Thursday's game against the Boston Celtics.
Initially, it was reported that point guard Mike Conley Jr. would be benched in favour of O'Neale, however, "after telling players" of the new lineup, Charania and Jones report that the Jazz changed course and opted to move Ingles to the second unit instead.
Per NBA.com Stats, the five-man unit of O'Neale, Ingles, Donovan Mitchell, Bojan Bogdanovic and Rudy Gobert boasts an offensive rating of 118.3 and a defensive rating of 102.0. That lineup was a big reason for Utah's 14-game win streak earlier in the season, with Ingles playing a huge role in their success as a member of the starting unit.
Utah is +5.9 PTS per 100 poss when Joe Ingles is on the floor and -1.1 when he's off.- Andy Bailey (@AndrewDBailey) February 26, 2020
Utah is +0.4 PTS per 100 poss when Mike Conley is on the floor and +5.0 when he's off.
Ingles as a starter: 11.2 PTS, 6.1 AST, 61.1 TS%
Ingles as a reserve: 7.6 PTS, 3.5 AST, 49.6 TS% https://t.co/4zLI7W87J1
The Aussie has started 37 of their 57 games this season after starting the campaign off the bench. However, over the past 10 games, he has managed just 6.5 points per game on 33.8 percent shooting from the field and 30 percent from three.
Bringing O'Neale into the starting lineup bolsters the Jazz's defensive presence on the wing, while also giving them a knockdown catch-and-shoot option from three.
On the season, he's averaging 6.0 points, 5.2 rebounds and 2.5 assists per game, while shooting 44.5 percent from the field and 40.1 percent from three.
In their recent three-game skid, the Jazz's defence has been porous, giving up 113 points to the San Antonio Spurs, 120 to the Houston Rockets and 131 to the Phoenix Suns. Bringing O'Neale in for that purpose alone should alleviate some pressure on the defensive end.
"No one's out there not trying to do their job," Ingles said after their loss to the Suns.
"There's obviously lapses, and that connectivity has been breaking down. We gave up 131, which for our team is kind of embarrassing, really - for what we stand for and how we want to play."
Joe Ingles: "No one's out there not trying to do their job. ... There's obviously lapses, and that connectivity has been breaking down. We gave up 131, which for our team is kind of embarrassing, really - for what we stand for and how we want to play." pic.twitter.com/Rg4jyYeSpT- Eric Walden (@tribjazz) February 25, 2020
For Ingles, despite his earlier struggles on the bench, he will look to lift their second unit production with his scoring and playmaking, which has been among the league's worst this season.
The Jazz are currently 25th in the NBA for bench scoring, which has been bolstered by the addition of Jordan Clarkson, who has recorded 10 games scoring 20-plus points in 27 appearances for the Jazz since being traded from Cleveland.
With the Jazz sitting fifth in the Western Conference at 36-21, they are still in the hunt for a top-four seed, just one game back of the Houston Rockets. The Oklahoma City Thunder are doing their best to close the gap, though, as they sit just half a game back of Utah.
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