This time, a 3-1 lead over the Utah Jazz didn’t go away.
And now comes the next challenge: the second round of the NBA playoffs.
Donovan Mitchell scored 30 points and is headed to the NBA’s No. 1 overall seed Western Conference semifinals after the Jazz beat the Memphis Grizzlies 126-110 on Wednesday night. Utah won four consecutive contests after dropping Game 1 and is now awaiting the winner of the series between the Dallas and Los Angeles Clippers.
It felt like forever for Mitchell, who hasn’t made it to the second round since his rookie season – the 2018 playoffs.
“For me, personally, it’s something I wanted to accomplish,” Mitchell said. “It’s not the end goal, but it’s definitely something to appreciate along the way. We did what we should have done, but at the end of the day you have to appreciate where you are, because it’s the shuffle of everything.” I can get lost.
“It’s a moment I’ll enjoy for the night, and then get ready to play whatever happens in the next round.”
The Jazz probably won’t mind if that Mavericks-Clippers series—Dallas took a 3-2 lead in that matchup in Los Angeles on Wednesday night where the Road team has won every game—goes the distance, if not the K. Another reason for this is that it would give starting point guard Mike Connelly more days off. Conley’s right hamstring was the only major problem for the Jazz on Wednesday night, forcing him to leave the game in the first half, which the team called a pain.
deserves concern. Conley has already been sidelined twice this season due to issues involving the same hamstring.
“He will be evaluated after the game and during the next 24 hours,” Jazz coach Quinn Snyder said. “Then we’ll be able to tell you more.”
The Jazz made quick work of the Grizzlies, which they did all season – making 3. Utah scored 1,205 3-pointers this season, setting a team record in 10 games played this season, the third most by any team in NBA history this season.
Same thing in the playoffs as Utah scored 84 3-pointers in five games against the Grizzlies, the most by any team so far in these playoffs. And in the last four games, the Jazz made at least 17 in each — the first team in NBA playoff history to make that many in at least four straight competitions.
“The job isn’t done,” said Mitchell. “We have to continue and move forward and do the same thing in the next round.”
He played his game even after suffering an early 1-0 loss, never deviated.
“I think it shows that last year is last year and this year is this year,” Snyder said.
If nothing else, these playoffs are already better than last season’s playoffs for Utah.
The Jazz took a 3-1 lead over Denver in Round 1 in the restart bubble set at Walt Disney World last summer, then dropped the final three games of that series—wasting a 15-point second-half lead in the first possible game. Dia 5 clinched and eventually fell 80–78 in Game 7, a game in which the offense was nowhere to be found and the fourth quarter lead away from Utah.
“We took care of business,” Mitchell said.
Few teams would have tried to make major changes after such a collapse. Jazz did anything but. They closed Mitchell with the maximum extension that kicks off this coming season, then got Rudy Gobert to sign a five-year extension as well. Jordan Clarkson received a four-year deal that won him the NBA’s sixth Man of the Year award this season – and the person closest to him in the voting was his jazz teammate Joe Ingalls.
They were the best in the West all season, spending each of the final 104 days of the regular season atop the Conference; Technically, they were tied for the first time in those three days, but no team finished the day with a better record than the Jazz since February 1.
The question now is whether they can live up to the billing and make it to the West Finals for the first time since 2007.
It’s the next goal, and it’s four wins away.
“We were able to stay locked inside and everyone stepped up and did what they were supposed to do,” Mitchell said. “That’s what championship teams do and that’s what our goal is – to win a championship.”
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