Playoff Preview: Utah Jazz has opportunity to close out series

by Harry Porter | It almost feels like Donovan Mitchell has outperformed each of his previous games in this series. Game four will go down in the books as the only playoff game in NBA history where two players on opposite teams scored at least 50 points each. While Lebron was able to lead the Cavs back from 3-1 against the Warriors, the Nuggets will have a much harder task overcoming this deficit. Here are my three key Jazz Notes for Utah to close out the series in game 5.

Jazz Note #1: Keep feeding the hot hand

Quin Snyder and all of Jazz nation have watched Mitchell rise from an underrated All-Star to a future All-NBA first-team guard. Two 50-point playoff performances puts Mitchell in esteemed company. Michael Jordan in the 1988 playoffs and Allen Iverson in the 2001 playoffs are the only other players who have scored more than 50 points twice in a playoff series. Utah needs to leave the keys to the offense in Mitchell’s hands and let him go to work in game 5.

Jazz Note #2: More offensive production from Jingles

Aside from Juwan Morgan, Joe Ingles was the only Jazz player who failed to record a point in game 4. Ingles finished the game with a +8 Box Plus/Minus and strong defensive efforts on perimeter pick-and-roll switches. Joe Ingles started off the series strong and averaged 18.5 points in the first two games. Joe only scored two points in games 3 and 4 and part of the decrease in offensive production is from Mike Conley’s return. Utah needs Joe to step up his scoring for the rest of a potentially deep playoff run.

Jazz Note #3: Continue to win the free throw battle

The Jazz are shooting lights out from beyond-the-arc but have continued to attack the basket. The Jazz have shot 82.3% on 62 three throws over the past two games. To me, this shows the Jazz aren’t settling for long range looks and are slashing to the basket looking to attack and draw fouls or kick the ball for an open three. Denver only attempted 24 free throws over the past few games and a huge factor in that low number is Rudy Gobert manning the middle. The Jazz will need Gobert to continue to keep the Nuggets out of the paint and off of the free-throw line.

My prediction: Denver will keep the game close but the Jazz will pull away in the second half and win 124-107 behind a 5th consecutive 20+ point performance from Donovan Mitchell. Look for all Jazz starters to finish with double-digit scoring performances.

The game will be broadcast Tuesday at 4:30pm MST on TNT.


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