by Daniel Olsen
Balling and Biking
The Jazz got out to a 34-22 lead at the end of the first quarter and then held on. The scoring was fairly even the rest of the way. The offense seems to have been unlocked since the return of Donovan Mitchell. Since he came back in the second game of this series, the Jazz have not failed to score less than 120 points in a game.
Mitchell spent half the game on the basketball court and the other half keeping his legs warm on the exercise bike. He normally plays about three quarters when fully healthy but is just doing everything he can to be ready for each game. The ankle seems fine but is still sore. He definitely makes Jazz fans gasp with each inevitable fall in these NBA Playoffs.
Mitchell got a large portion of his work done at the charity stripe in this game. Although his threes weren’t falling, he was able to get into the teeth of the defense and draw fouls. He was 9-11 from the line on the night.
While he seemed loud in his return, he played with a quiet confidence on this night. On one particular play he looked like he was going to cut off the screen, but crossed over the other way for an easy three instead.
Mitchell knows the job isn’t finished. Even if they go up 3-1 tomorrow, they know from last year that closing out the series won’t be a walk in the park.
It’s expected that Mike Conley would be excited to play his former team. However, it wasn’t expected for him to be playing at this level. While Conley had solid percentages in the regular season, he has increased his production in these playoffs. He is leading the team with 81 points scored in this postseason.
It seems like anything he wants he gets. He is confident with his dribbles and footwork. When he puts up a three, he is certain that the shot is going in.
He is also a master of the pick and roll. Memphis does not seem to have an answer. If they hug the shooters, the Jazz are zipping the ball down to Gobert for an easy dunk. It’s happening like clockwork. It’s nice to hit threes but it’s also nice to have this easy option when the shots aren’t falling.
Free Throw Frenzy
While there weren’t as many free throws in this game as the historic barrage in last game, the Jazz still got to the foul line almost twice as much as the Grizzlies. Either Memphis is playing very physical or the refs are running a tight ship.
Dillon Brooks, currently known as Mad Baby on Twitter, fouled out with 27 points. He and Ja Morant led the way with 55 combined points. His edge won the first game over the Jazz. He seems to live and die with that edge. The refs seem to have taken note of his antics from Game 1 and are not letting him get away with anything now.
Brooks head-butted Conley earlier in the series the minute the refs weren’t looking. In this game, he punched Conley in the ribs. Conley just responded by hitting threes and quietly letting Brooks know about it.
Rebound that Basketball
If there was one area where the Jazz struggled, it was giving up rebounds. They led Memphis slightly with 36 defensive rebounds. However, they lost the offensive board battle 7-16. The Jazz are a better team than Memphis. However, a poor shooting night could doom the Jazz on a night like this. The Grizzlies can’t shoot nearly as well as a whole. However, if they keep getting second opportunities then they could take advantage at some point.
Memorial Day Game 4
Stay tuned for a special Memorial Day article on the life of Mark Eaton. Eaton passed away earlier on Saturday morning in a bike accident near his home in Summit County. He was a great motivational speaker and basketball player. He will be missed.
The Jazz are set to play the second of the two game Memphis home-stand tomorrow at 7:30 PM Mountain Time. The game will be broadcast on TNT. They currently have the best odds to win a championship at 26 percent on FiveThirtyEight.
Featured image courtesy AP Photo/John Amis