by Daniel Olsen | The key to win this series is to win game six. While teams down 3-1 rarely win, when they can force a game seven and are confident they are the better team, then they have the momentum. The Nuggets are the better seed and have shown this season that when at their best, they can beat the Jazz. Utah has thrown a couple punches with hot shooting, but it’s hard to knock out a winning team like Denver four out of seven times.
The Jazz can’t just have the game plan be for Donovan Mitchell to score 60 points. Even when he scored 57 in game one, it wasn’t enough. The answer isn’t Mike Conley or Gobert. We know they will come ready to ball. The answer for a Jazz win is Jordan Clarkson bringing that spark off the bench.
Although he will not win the award this year, Clarkson must play like the sixth man of the year to really help the Jazz advance in this series. While not always necessary, 20 points or more per game by Clarkson is a key indicator of whether the Jazz will or will not win.
Clarkson 20+ points Jazz win:
While Clarkson isn’t a starter on the Jazz, his value off the bench is one of the biggest of any backup point guard in the NBA. He is the one player from the depleted bench that is a walking bucket. While he looks for his shot most times he touches the ball, he is not a shot taker. He is a shot maker. Clarkson has averaged 15.2 points per game this year.
The stats prove that when Clarkson has a good game, the Jazz are much more likely to win. The Jazz are 2-0 against the Nuggets in these playoffs when he scores at least 20 points but 1-2 when he doesn’t. This holds true in the regular season, as well. The Nuggets swept the Jazz 3-0 and in those three games, Clarkson scored over 20 just once.
Since acquired by the Jazz just before Christmas, Clarkson has been quite the present for the Jazz off the bench. The Jazz are 11-4 when he scores at least 20 points. These stats indicate that, while this is not a magic pill to win all games, it is critical for the Jazz to score at a high level to win games. They are talented defensively, but this year they have proven more successful when there is often firing on all cylinders.
Rudy will continue to be the Stifle Tower on defense. Donovan will continue to be the scoring Spider-Man. Conley will continue to show his playoff experience. Clarkson was brought here to be that spark off the bench and he will need to have a big game for the Jazz to win his series. While the bench on a team with solid starters might not get much credit, Clarkson has the chance to change that narrative for the Jazz. He needs to not only score, but play with emotion and create those opportunities for the Jazz to advance to the next round. It’s time for other Jazz players to step up to seal the deal.
Featured image via Forbes.