Despite the 3-1 advantage, the Utah Jazz know the hardest part may yet be ahead. Notably because the memory of the play-offs played in the Orlando bubble last summer is still fresh. In an identical situation, against the Denver Nuggets, Rudy Gobert’s team had lost their next three matches, suffering a particularly disappointing elimination after a year marked by the end of the regular season – following the positive control for the coronavirus of the French pivot – and the quarrel between the Frenchie and his co-leader, Donovan Mitchell.
Monday evening, at the end of a generally controlled match against the Memphis Grizzlies (120-113), the Jazz therefore offered the right to redeem themselves from this oddity and will be able to count on a major difference: Wednesday, the franchise of Salt Lake City will play at home to fold the series in the first round. They would be well inspired as all other Western Conference series are 2-2, which means the potential second-round opponent (the Clippers or Dallas) would have to play at least two more games before meeting Utah.
These are the chances of the Utah Jazz to win their series: 95% of the teams that led 3-1 have eliminated their opponent. In 59.6% of the cases (155/260), the streak ended at 4-1.
“They simply have the answer to everything”
Monday night, Quin Snyder’s men relied on their main strength, three-point shooting (17 of 34, 50%), to make a difference. That and an aggressiveness more often rewarded (25 of 28 throws) to compensate for the good performances of Ja Morant (23 points, 6 rebounds, 12 assists), Jaren Jackson Jr. (21 points) and Dillon Brooks (21 points). Opposite, Donovan Mitchell proved that he was on the way to regaining all of his feelings (30 points to 8 of 22, 8 assists), while Jordan Clarkson (24 points) honored his status as the best sixth man of the season. Gobert (17 points, 8 rebounds) held the comparison against Jonas Valanciunas (14 points, 12 rebounds), while he had joined the locker room having scored only one point for two rebounds.
Forced to recognize the superiority of the visitors, Grizzlies coach Taylor Jenkins paid tribute to his players – who form the youngest team in the play-offs – at the end of the game: ” There is no frustration to be had when you fight so well against the best team in the NBA. They simply have an answer for everything. We give everything we have. “Memphis has never been more than 4 points ahead during the game while the Jazz increased their advantage to 13 units at the end of the third quarter (100-87). Clumsy in the final period (3 of 16), the leaders of the regular season secured their third consecutive success in the series on the throwing line (12 of 13).
« We need to go home and take care of our floors in Utah, and I think our heads are already there Mitchell, who does not intend to miss the opportunity to qualify his franchise for the second round, after failing the last two seasons to do so. Since its reunion with the play-offs in 2017 (after four seasons without a final phase), Utah has never done better than a second round.