Playoff Preview: Some things are bigger than basketball

by Harry Porter | On August 26th, 2016, Colin Kaepernick knelt for the national anthem against the Green Bay Packers in the San Francisco 49ers’ third preseason game to protest racial injustice and police brutality. Four years later – to the day – the Milwaukee Bucks decided to boycott game 5 of their series against the Orlando Magic in protest of the shooting of Jacob Blake. In the following hours, the Houston Rockets and Oklahoma City Thunder agreed to boycott game 5 and the Los Angeles Lakers and Portland Trailblazers followed suit. Even Kenny “The Jet” Smith walked off TNT’s Inside the NBA during a live show today. The Lakers and Bucks could have advanced to the Eastern and Western Conference Semifinals with game 5 wins.

Instead, the Milwaukee Bucks remained in their locker room and had a conference call with Wisconsin Attorney General Josh Kaul and Lieutenant Governor Mandela Barnes, first reported by The Athletic.

“They just wanted to know what they could do,” Governor Barnes told ESPN. “They wanted something tangible that they could do in the short and long term. They wanted the walk out to be step one.”

While crass, J.R. Smith of the Los Angeles Lakers summed up the feeling of NBA Players on Instagram:

“Oh you don’t hear us…well now you can’t see us!!!!” – @jrsmith2k

Smith is making a plea to the sports world to focus on something bigger than sports. The rest of the NBA most likely stands behind the sentiment that racial injustice is bigger than the playoffs right now.

Utah’s own Donovan Mitchell also took to social media to voice his support for the Bucks in their decision to walkout of game five.

Woj reported that during the players-only meeting, the group had momentum not to play Thursday’s games, which would include Utah’s game six. If the Jazz do end up playing, I have three quick Jazz Notes for you.

Jazz Note #1: Address the Nuggets late game runs

The Jazz need to address their fourth quarter breakdown from game five. The Jazz were tied 101-101 with 3:46 left in the fourth quarter. Denver went on a 16-6 run to the end the game and the Jazz relied too heavily on Donovan Mitchell to generate all of the offense. Speaking of Mitchell…

Jazz Note #2: Mitchell needs a co-star

As the Jazz saw in game five, they need a secondary scoring option to step up. While the starters did step up their overall offensive production, no Jazz player other than Mitchell scored more than 20 points. He will need another member of the starting five to provide a secondary scoring option.

Jazz Note #3: Jazz need more bench production

Jordan Clarkson (17p/3r/2a), Georges Niang (7 pts/3r/2a) and Tony Bradley (2p/1r/2b) were the only players who scored off the bench for the Jazz. Utah’s bench ended up outscoring Denver’s bench by three points (26-23). The Jazz need to be wary of the fact that Gary Harris could provide a scoring boost off the Nugget’s bench in a potential game six return.

Game six is a must-win game for the Utah Jazz. The Nuggets will have too much momentum in game seven for the Jazz to stand a chance. I think the Jazz will actually close out the series in game six when it is eventually played. While I want to see playoff basketball tomorrow, one quote from Bucks Senior Vice President Alex Lasry encapsulates my thoughts.

“Some things are bigger than basketball.”

Featured image via The Los Angeles Times.

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