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3 keys from the Utah Jazz’s 112-109 loss to the Memphis Grizzlies in Game 1 of first round playoff series

Utah Jazz guard Mike Conley (10) reacts after receiving a foul as Utah Jazz and Memphis Grizzlies play in the NBA playoffs.
Utah Jazz guard Mike Conley (10) reacts after receiving a foul as the Utah Jazz and the Memphis Grizzlies play in game one of their NBA playoff series at Vivint Arena in Salt Lake City on Sunday, May 23, 2021.
Scott G Winterton, Deseret News

Bojan Bogdanovic missed a heavily contested 3-point try as the clock ticked down, and the Utah Jazz fell to the Memphis Grizzlies 112-109 in Game 1 of the teams’ first round playoff series at Vivint Arena in Salt Lake City on Sunday night.

That Bogdanovic was even in that position was somewhat remarkable, as the Jazz trailed by as many as 17 points in the fourth quarter. But behind hot shooting from the Croatian, Utah battled back to within one with 6.4 seconds to go.

Here are three keys from the game:

The Grizzlies were the much more physical team

Even until just a few years ago, the Grizzlies’ Grit ‘n’ Grind identity meant a lot of physical basketball games. They’re generally more aesthetically pleasing to watch now, but on Sunday, they were incredibly physical with the Jazz. They forced turnovers, won most of the 50-50 balls and just generally made Utah’s life on offense uncomfortable.

Memphis was led by Dillon Brooks, whose antics may not have pleased Utah fans, but his energy on the defensive end was unmistakable and key in helping the Grizzlies build their lead. That effort almost made his game-high 31 points an afterthought.

The Jazz were ice cold from 3 until the fourth quarter

The Jazz literally had NBA record-setting success from behind the 3-point line during the regular season, but were absolutely awful from distance on Sunday except for one stretch in the fourth quarter in which they (mostly Bogdanovic) got hot, which allowed them to mount their comeback.

For the night, Utah finished 12 of 47 from deep, which included a 5 of 14 clip in the fourth quarter. Yes, that math means they went just 7 of 33 from distance in the first three quarters.

The Jazz couldn’t stop Ja Morant down the stretch

The Grizzlies’ second-year budding star point guard was moderately quiet for 3.5 quarters, as he scored 16 points. But in the last 5:31 of the contest, he scored 10 as the Jazz were mounting their rally. All of those points came by him just getting into the lane off the dribble and making a floater or layup.

Rudy Gobert fouling out partway through the fourth probably had a big impact in this department, but the Jazz are going to need to figure out how to better contain Morant as the series goes on.


3:19, 4th quarter: Grizzlies 104, Jazz 98

Cold all night, the Jazz offense is finally getting going. Bojan Bogdanovic has 19, including 12 in the fourth quarter. Additionally, Memphis’ physicality has waned some, although Ja Morant is having his way getting into the lane.


8:22, 4th quarter: Grizzlies 97, Jazz 82

The Jazz had cut the deficit to six, but Memphis rookie Desmond Bane hit a deep 3-pointer as time expired at the end of the third quarter, giving the Grizzlies the momentum back heading into the fourth.

From there, Memphis continued to play as it had all night, and the Jazz kept missing 3-pointers. For the night, Utah has made just eight of its 36 attempts from distance.


4:51, 3rd quarter: Grizzlies 70, Jazz 59

After the Jazz cut the deficit to just one at 60-59, the Grizzlies responded by going on a quick 10-0 run. The problems that have plagued Utah throughout the game were shown during the run, as Memphis was the more physical team and the Jazz could not make a 3-pointer. For the night, Utah is just 6 of 31 from deep and has committed 16 turnovers.


Halftime: Grizzlies 49, Jazz 43

After the Jazz went up by 14 at 36-22 with 6:30 to go in the half, the Grizzlies closed on a 27-7 run. Memphis played excellent defense throughout the half and then finally started making some shots in those final minutes to erase the deficit and take the lead.

For the half, the Grizzlies shot 38 percent while the Jazz shot just 34 percent. The Jazz are winning the rebounding battle 29-20 but have 10 turnovers to just five for Memphis, and the Grizzlies have a 24-16 edge in points in the paint.

Mike Conley is playing well offensively for Utah with 16 points, but everyone else is largely struggling.


First quarter: Jazz 24, Grizzlies 17

It wasn’t a very good quarter offensively for the Jazz, their first game action in a week, as they went more than four minutes in the middle of it without a point thanks to missed shots and turnovers. They started well and ended well, however, and were very good defensively for most of it, dominating the glass. Mike Conley leads the way against his former longtime team with nine points.