The Utah Jazz have the chance to wrap up the first round of the playoffs and eliminate the Memphis Grizzlies on Wednesday night.
With a 3-1 series lead and Game 5 tipping off in front of a home crowd at Vivint Arena, the Jazz want to make sure this thing ends and they don’t have to go back to Memphis for a Game 6.
Elimination games always come with a unique set of challenges. Here are three things the Jazz will have to be ready for as they head into Game 5 against the Grizzlies.
If not now, when? Grizzlies coach Taylor Jenkins has no reason not to try a sneaky lineup shift. Sometimes coaches don’t like to make these changes because they’d rather play through their normal style rather than make a decision that might be too impulsive. But facing elimination, it’s time to pull out all the stops, so the Jazz shouldn’t be surprised if there are defensive assignment differences, or players moved around in the lineup.
The Jazz need to be prepared for this and react quickly.
In all three of the Jazz’s wins over the Grizzlies during the playoffs, they have scored 120 or more points. This is not something the Grizzlies have just let slide by them. They know they need to contain the Jazz, especially on the 3-point line. The Jazz’s perimeter players and ball handlers should be prepared to face blitzes and double-teams, forcing them to win from the interior.
The Jazz have the talent and weapons to handle a tighter perimeter attack, they just have to be smart about it.
We saw it a little bit in the fourth quarter of Game 4, when De’Anthony Melton scored 15 of the Grizzlies’ 26 points. This Grizzlies have a ton of fight left in them and their players are resilient. But more importantly, they are going to be playing desperately, and that level of intensity needs to be matched by the Jazz.
Ja Morant, Dillon Brooks, Jaren Jackson Jr. and Jonas Valanciunas are not players that are going to go away quietly. They’ll be swinging until the final buzzer sounds and if the Jazz aren’t up to snuff, then the Grizzlies could extend this series beyond Wednesday.
Game 5 tips off at 7:30 p.m. MDT Wednesday on NBA TV.