by Harry Porter | Donovan Mitchell gave Utah the performance of his life and carried the Jazz the entire game. While basketball analysts seem to give Denver the advantage, the Nuggets and Jazz matchup is quite similar with roster balance and injuries. The Jazz went toe-to-toe with the Nuggets for the entirety of game 1 without Mike Conley’s production and playoff experience. In honor of Mitchell’s 57 points, here are 57 key game threads to pay attention to. Just kidding, but check out my three key Jazz Notes for a win in game two.
Jazz Note #1: Prevent defensive mismatches against Jamal Murray
To put it bluntly, the Jazz need to figure out a way to keep Joe Ingles off Jamal Murray on pick and role switches. It was quite evident after Murray posted 17 points and six assists in the 4th quarter and OT. Virtually all of his points came off of pick and rolls with Nikola Jokic where Ingles was stuck guarding Murray for an isolation sequence. The Jazz need to figure out a defensive rotation to allow Gobert, Ingles or Morgan to avoid switching onto Murray in late game situations.
Jazz Note #2: More production from the Bench
I thought it was surprising that Miye Oni and Rayjon Tucker received no minutes of action during the game. Besides Clarkson, the bench only scored a combined eight points between Georges Niang (seven points) and Emmanual Mudiay (one point). With Mike Conley potentially returning for game 3 after the birth of his son, the Jazz need more production from their bench if they are going to keep pace with the Nuggets. Donovan can’t carry the entire offensive load while playing virtually the entire game. I’d look for Quin Snyder to give the rookies a shot after Juwan Morgan’s excellent strong rebounding game (seven boards) in an expanded starting lineup cameo.
Jazz Note #3: Stay out of foul trouble
The Jazz rotational players need to stay out of foul trouble because the Jazz’s depth is already thin. While the game did go into overtime, Royce O’Neale, Rudy Gobert and Jordan Clarkson both finished with five fouls. The Jazz playoff rotation only went nine players deep with Mudiay and Bradley seeing only 12 minutes each. If any of the Jazz’s key rotation players foul out, the weight on Donovan’s shoulders will only increase.
Game 2 is an absolute must win for Utah!
My prediction: With game 2 being an absolute must win for Utah, the Jazz will walk away with the win. I think they will close out the game in regulation and win 115-107 behind another 40+ point performance from Donovan Mitchell.
The game will be broadcast Wednesday at 2:00pm MST on TNT.