UPDATE: Morgan played 25 minutes and scored 3 points while corralling 7 rebounds and adding an assist and a steal. With a team best +17, Morgan was one of only two players on the Jazz with a positive plus/minus ratio. Utah lost the series opener 135 to 125 in overtime.
Donovan Mitchell starts off his postgame presser: "I want to give a huge shout out to Juwan Morgan. Very impressive for a rookie to come and start a playoff game and do what he did."
— Ryan Miller (@millerjryan) August 17, 2020
Original pregame story follows.
Ten days ago it looked like Juwan Morgan’s season was over.
Unable to put any weight on his leg, Morgan left an NBA game in Orlando in a wheelchair.
Today, Morgan will be starting in his first ever NBA Playoff game when the Utah Jazz play the Denver Nuggets.
The surprise insertion of Morgan into the starting lineup was an adjustment necessitated by Jazz point guard Michael Conley leaving the Orlando bubble for the birth of his son.
Morgan’s new role could have some staying power, as players who leave the bubble are subject to a quarantine upon their return.
Morgan appeared in 21 games this season for Utah, averaging 1.7 points and 1.4 rebounds per game in 6.4 mpg.
In the season restart, Morgan played in five of Utah’s eight games, averaging 3.4 ppg and 2.0 rpg in 12.1 mpg.
Morgan overcame the odds this year by simply making an NBA Playoff roster. Undrafted out of IU, the 6-foot-8 Morgan started the season in the G-League. Strong performances there ultimately landed Morgan his first NBA contract.
Morgan also avoided a serious injury after a frightening tumble on Aug. 7. He suffered no structural damage to his knee.
And now, what had once looked like a season lost is instead a career milestone for Morgan.
It will be a moment of firsts when Morgan is on the floor for the opening tip. According to Rick Bozich of WDRB, he will be the first undrafted NBA rookie to start in a playoff game. It will also be Morgan’s first career NBA start.
Utah’s game against Denver tips at 1:30 p.m. ET on ESPN.
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