Facebook Twitter

Analysis: Utah Jazz take 3-1 series lead over the Grizzlies with a 30-point performance by Donovan Mitchell

SHARE Analysis: Utah Jazz take 3-1 series lead over the Grizzlies with a 30-point performance by Donovan Mitchell
Utah Jazz guard Donovan Mitchell shoots between three Memphis Grizzlies defenders during Game 4 of their playoff series.

Utah Jazz guard Donovan Mitchell (45) shoots between Memphis Grizzlies guards Grayson Allen (3), Ja Morant and De’Anthony Melton (0) in the second half of Game 4 of an NBA basketball first-round playoff series Monday, May 31, 2021, in Memphis, Tenn.

Brandon Dill, Associated Press

The Utah Jazz beat the Memphis Grizzlies, 120-113, at FedEx Forum on Monday to take a 3-1 series lead back to Salt Lake City for a Wednesday night Game 5.

High notes

  • There was a spring in Donovan Mitchell’s step on Monday that we didn’t see in Games 2 and 3. He was turning corners a little faster, getting up higher for rebounds and was more explosive on his drives. His game-high 30 points never felt forced or even overt. He quietly led the game and the Jazz.
  • Mitchell is very aware of Dillon Brooks’ tendency to foul and foul often. Mitchell drew multiple fouls on Brooks and counted off the third and fourth fouls on his hand when they came against the Grizzlies’ best perimeter defender. The confidence and joy and tenacity that comes with that kind of attitude, even in a tight game, is something that Jazz fans should relish and love.

  • Royce O’Neale has been aggressive, kept the ball alive, hit shots, defended well and has been instrumental in the Jazz winning three games in a row against this Grizzlies team. The thing that impresses me the most about O’Neale is that he’s faster than he looks like he might be and is a great rebounder.

“He’s always a confident player but I think his determination to be the best defenders on the floor, his determination to be the best rebounder on the floor and determination to go out there and make all the little plays...he’s a big energy booster for us on both ends of the floor.” — Donovan Mitchell on Royce O’Neale

  • Jordan Clarkson hadn’t been able to start strong yet in this series but broke that streak on Monday, scoring 12 points in the first half and adding another 12 in the second half. Maybe more importantly, Clarkson was able to come alive in the third quarter and gave the Jazz a bit of a cushion that helped the Jazz withstand the final push from the Grizzlies. 

“We know how Jordan plays, we know how important he is for us, what he brings to the table. Not a lot of teams have a guy that can go out there and legitimately get you 40 points in 30 minutes. He’s going to win us some games in the playoffs. We know and have trust in everything he does.” — Mike Conley 

  • After a Game 3 in which Joe Ingles was nearly invisible save a single 3-point shot, the Aussie looked much more intentional on Monday. Not only was he more involved and creating at a higher rate on the offensive end, he was engaged on defense. That’s the thing with Ingles, it’s excellent when he’s firing from 3-point land and hitting, but he’s such an effective creator and so valuable defensively that as long as he is playing within himself it almost doesn’t matter if he’s scoring at a high rate, the Jazz have a lot of people that can score the ball. He just can’t fall off the map like he did on Saturday.
  • Mike Conley had a steal on Ja Morant and a 3-pointer on the other end that completely shifted the game in the fourth quarter. He had a bit of a quiet night but the Jazz were able to put this game away because of Conley’s fourth quarter play.
  • The Jazz shot 48.6% from the 3-point line. That’s really good.
  • Finally the Jazz were able to contain Memphis’ ability to generate second-chance opportunities, holding the Grizzlies to just seven offensive rebounds for the game.

Low notes

  • The Jazz’s first defensive option on Monday was a lot better than it has been previously in this series. It was the secondary defense that fell off at points and was disappointing. Rudy Gobert or Derrick Favors or Conley or O’Neale had a ton of possessions where they played great defense, even Bojan Bogdanovic had a play where he completely shut down a drive by Morant, and then whoever was supposed to help from the weak side or close out on a shooter were often out of position or a step behind. It wasn’t all game but it just hurts after someone completely shuts down Morant or Brooks and then the help defender leaves Grayson Allen open at the 3-point line. There needs to be a little more trust and awareness on those second and third options.

  • Gobert went up for a layup, was fouled and before he even had a chance to hear that the official behind him had whistled the play, he looked at the baseline ref, and was incensed to the point of punching the stanchion multiple times. He was headed to the free throw line but his reaction gave Memphis some free points first. Can’t do that. Just because you think the official closest to you wasn’t the one that called the foul doesn’t mean that you should lose your cool when you are leading a series and about to win to go up 3-1. That’s not the right time or the right reaction.

Flat notes

  • Fans leaving a playoff game early has never made sense to me. I’ve seen it in every arena and every playoff game that I’ve covered and I just can’t wrap my head around it. This game was in single digits with less than a minute left. I understand that there are some people that have to relieve a babysitter or have other extenuating circumstances, but that’s certainly not the case with the droves of people that stream out of arenas before the final buzzer. Do yourself a favor and google Tracy McGrady’s 13 points in 33 seconds or Reggie Miller’s eight points in nine seconds. Don’t count your team out if there’s a chance.