by Daniel Olsen
Splits are the most exciting part of the NBA playoffs. No, these aren’t the splits that gymnasts do. They aren’t tasty banana splits either. A split is when the road team steals a game on the home team’s first two game stand. That’s exactly what the Memphis Grizzlies did as they took game one from the Utah Jazz before bowing out in Game 2. What can the Jazz do to return the favor by stealing one in Memphis? Here are just a few things they can try.
• Tame the Roar Early
The Grizzlies made a run in the second half of Game 2 to try to steal that game as well. However, it was too little too late as the Jazz put their starters back in to seal the deal.
The Jazz will need to do something similar to take the fans in Memphis out of the game early. If they are quiet then their normally loud playoff atmosphere won’t be an impact.
The Jazz allowed 43 points in the third quarter last game after only allowing 54 points in the first half. Their offense might not be clicking the same level it was in Salt Lake City so they will have to defend better to avoid playing into the hands of Memphis.
A double digit lead at halftime would do wonders for their confidence. It doesn’t need to be 20 points, but double-digits seems like a more daunting deficit that single digits. The Jazz also would love to let Mitchell rest as much as possible.
• Adjust to adjustments
The Utah Jazz need to play chess. They need to anticipate the next moves. There are many moving parts in basketball so teams that anticipate at a checkers level will be left behind. The biggest adjustments they need to make are on defense as the offense is working fine. However, they can’t guard Ja Morant or Dillon Brooks very well. It was fortunate that Brooks sat much of the first half last game due to foul trouble.
If the Jazz drop their coverage, they could dare Morant to make outside shots. They could also double-team him and force the Grizzlies to make someone else beat them. This is especially important because Morant will get to the lane and make those floaters if the Jazz only play him in single-coverage. If they take Morant out and stay in front of shooters, the Jazz should be able to execute a solid defensive game plan.
• Capitalize on free throws
Both teams shot a record number of free throws in Game 2. However, neither team seemed to capitalize. The Jazz want to get to the free throw line at will again. They want to make them and not just take them.
In the last game, the Jazz and Grizzlies combined for 69 attempts but only 76.8% of those shots went in. Both teams shot a similar percentage but the Jazz had seven fewer attempts. Utah needs to find a way to get to the free throw line the same number of times and capitalize on their free throws. It’s tougher to make them on the road but real championship contenders will find a way to do it.
Prediction: Jazz 111 Grizzlies 107
Featured image courtesy Russell Isabella-USA TODAY Sports