Game Five Recap:
From the get-go, this one was all about the Utah Jazz. Fire, drive, and determination were exuding from the Jazz as they knocked the Grizzlies down early, and although there was a valiant last-ditch effort at the end, Utah finished them off with authority.
Donovan Mitchell was once again the man of the night, beginning the game with the precision of a sniper and the confidence of a champion fighter. The former Louisville Cardinal helped the Jazz jump out to an early lead by shooting 6/8 from the field, and scoring 14-points in the first quarter. He finished the game with 30-points, 10-assists, and 6-rebounds, leading Utah to a 126-110 series winning victory over the Memphis Grizzlies.
Last night's series finale wasn't as close as the final score shows. The Jazz quickly found themselves ahead by ten points in the first four minutes of the game, and that lead expanded to twenty by the time the first quarter was over. For most of the night, Utah led Memphis by twenty-five points or more. It wasn't until the end of the final quarter, after Utah sat their starters and second stringers, that the Jazz lead dwindled to sixteen points.
Utah Jazz vs Memphis Grizzlies Recap: The Good
1. The All-Stars:
Donovan Mitchell has grown in front of our very eyes, and has risen to the level of super-stardom in the NBA. The Jazz are 4-0 since Mitchell's return from injury, and have played with an extra bit of confidence with him on the floor.
Mike Conley was exceptional against his former team, averaging 17.4-points, 3.8-rebounds, and 8.6-assists. If it weren't for a hamstring tweak in the first half of game five, those numbers would be even higher.
Rudy Gobert lived up to his "Stifle Tower" nickname, and continued to prove why he should be given his third Defensive Player of the Year award. Gobert averaged 17.4 points, 13-rebounds, and 3.2-blocks per game throughout the series.
2. The Mental Game:
Last season, the Jazz found themselves with a 3-1 lead heading into game five against the Denver Nuggets, and lost. With that feeling in the back of their minds, Utah wasn't about to let lightning strike twice. After falling to the Grizzlies in game one, the Jazz came out with a vengeance throughout the rest of the series. They took control in game two and won by twelve, then went on the road and emerged victorious in both games by ten and seven points respectively. The Jazz then finished off the Grizzlies in dominating fashion in game five by sixteen points.
Each game the Jazz played, they looked even better than the last. They wouldn't give in to Dillon Brooks smack talk, and never let a Grizzlies run get the best of them. The Jazz mental strength was put on display in games three and four, as they would capitalize each time the Grizzlies would show spurts of momentum.
3. Navigating Tough Waters:
The Jazz and Grizzlies series started off on a rough foot, as the Jazz fell in game one with a late change to the lineup. Donovan Mitchell expressed frustration with Utah's decision to sit him after telling the media that he was ready to play earlier that morning. This could've been a distraction that stopped the Jazz before anything got started. Instead, Mitchell, the team, coaches, front office, and medical team communicated and pushed through. Mitchell returned in game two and never looked back, leading the Jazz to four straight wins over the Grizzlies.
Game two also had off-court chaos that could've sent the team in a tailspin. During the second matchup, three fans were ejected and banned from the arena after using racially charged and other inappropriate language towards Ja Morant's family. The Jazz quickly addressed the situation and made amends to the Morant's. Utah issued public statements apologizing to Morant's family as well as giving them courtside seats to Game Five.
Ja Morant said after the game, “Me and my family appreciate the Utah fans tonight and the organization. The players, coaches, owners, everyone for taking care of us on this trip here,” Morant continued. “For them to show the love they did on this trip sits in a special place in me and my family’s hearts.”
“Every single fan we interacted with greeted us with open arms tonight,” Morant’s family friend, Trey Draper said. “It just goes to show you that one bad apple doesn’t spoil the tree. I give the night a 10 out of 10.”
Utah Jazz vs Memphis Grizzlies Recap: The Bad
In all but one game that the Jazz faced the Grizzlies, Memphis cut a Jazz double-digit lead down to a one-possession game. The Grizzlies even took the lead in some instances.
In game one, the Jazz were up by fourteen in the second quarter before losing the lead and ultimately, losing the game.
Game two saw Utah's lead reach twenty-three before the Grizzlies 43-point third quarter cut the Jazz lead to two.
In game three, the Jazz led by as many as fifteen points. The Grizzlies came back and took the lead in the fourth quarter before the Jazz regained the lead and finished them off.
Game four saw the Grizzlies coming back from being thirteen points down, to cutting the Jazz lead to three points.
Lastly, in game five the Grizzlies made a late surge to cut the Jazz 33-point lead down to sixteen.
2. Conley's Hamstring
Thankfully, the Jazz were healthy throughout the first round, with their only injury being Donovan Mitchell's ankle in game one. Unfortunately, Conley's lingering right hamstring was tweaked for the third time this season in the first half of game five. Conley missed the second half of the game. His status for round two is still unknown. Conley is an important piece to this Jazz team, and Utah will need him as they make their playoff push.
The Jazz will face either the Dallas Mavericks (3-2) or the Los Angeles Clippers (2-3) in round two of the Western Conference Playoffs. If the Mavericks win tomorrow night, the Jazz will take on Luka Doncic and company. If the Clippers win game six, Dallas and Los Angeles will face each other once again on Sunday to determine who plays Utah.
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