Playoff Preview: Win or go home – game seven for Jazz

by Harry Porter | As my colleague Elmer Mejia wrote, game six was a sensational battle between Donovan Mitchell and Jamal Murray. Murray joined Mitchell, Michael Jordan and Allen Iverson as the only players with multiple 50 point performances in a single playoff series following his 50-point outburst in game six. The Jazz suddenly find themselves in hot water going into a game seven after leading the series 3-1. Here are seven Jazz Notes for Utah to close out game seven and advance to the Western Conference Semifinals against the #3 Los Angeles Clippers.

Jazz Note #1: Give Donovan offensive freedom

Donovan Mitchell finished game six with a dominant stat line (44p/6r/5a/3s) and nine made threes on 69.3% from deep. Yet, Quin Snyder could be seen multiple times discouraging Spidey’s isolation game. Yes, the other starters need to be more involved but stifling Donovan’s playoff genius makes no sense right now. That brings me to my next note…

Jazz Note #2: Where were the starters in game six?

Mike Conley (21p/5r/6a) was the sidekick that Donovan needed in game six but the three other starters were almost nonexistent on the offensive end. Joe Ingles (5p/4a/1b), Rudy Gobert (11p/11r/1a) and Royce O’Neale (5p/3r/2a) only combined for 21 points. The Jazz need more offensive production out of those three to keep up with the Nuggets.

Jazz Note #3: Is there an answer for Jamal Murray?

Jamal Murray has consistently punished Utah’s defense during this series. He has three straight games of 40+ points and the Jazz have thrown a multitude of defense matchups on him. Quin Snyder is going to need to throw some new defensive schemes at Murray and even consider utilizing a box-and-one to stop him.

Jazz Note #4: Jordan Clarkson needs to be productive

As my colleague Daniel Olsen pointed out, Jordan Clarkson needs to be an offensive spark plug for the Jazz to keep pace with the Nuggets. Clarkson (11p/4r/2a/2s) struggled on the offensive end and only converted 35.7% of his shots including 16.7% from beyond the arc. The Jazz need Clarkson to drop over 20 points in game seven to help mitigate the bench’s paltry offensive production.

Jazz Note #5: Rudy needs to be an anchor in the paint and on the glass

The Nuggets continue to exploit Gobert away from the basket as Jokic’s three point stroke forces him away from the basket. Rudy was exposed in the pick-and-roll switches and the Jazz need to find a way to keep him around the paint and controlling the glass.

Jazz Note #6: Keep forcing turnovers

The Jazz forced 15 turnovers and they will need to continue to apply that defensive pressure in game seven. The end of the game will come down to late-game execution and forcing the Nuggets into turnovers. This will help solidify the win for Utah.

Jazz Note #7: Don’t give up the freebies

The Jazz only shot 70% from the charity stripe in game six. While the Jazz missed nine free throws, the Nuggets shot 88% from the foul line and only missed three free throws. Game seven could come down to free throws and the Jazz need to be able to close the game out in crunch time.

My Prediction: Jazz in 7

I know I’ve been wrong in the past two games but I see the Jazz gutting out game seven and advancing to the Semifinals. Utah will win 118-106 behind a dominant 30-point performance from Donovan.

Game seven will tip-off at 6:30pm MST on ABC. Go Jazz!

Featured image via NJ.com.

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