What Are Nuggets Saying About Mitchell, Jazz In Game Two?
SALT LAKE CITY, Utah – The Denver Nuggets are looking for a way to slow down Utah Jazz guard Donovan Mitchell ahead of game two after a historic 57 point performance on Monday. The Jazz guard’s 57 points were the third-highest individual scoring output by any player in NBA playoff history.
Nuggets coach Mike Malone said the team will have to change the gameplan if they want to slow Mitchell down before Wednesday’s game.
“He scored 57 points, so I don’t know if there was a lot that we really did well,” Malone said.” He’s a strong right-hand driver and we let him get to his right hand quite a bit. And that’s just guarding one on one. He got to the foul line 13 times. So we have to give him different looks.
— Denver Nuggets (@nuggets) August 18, 2020
Despite Mitchell’s historic performance, Malone said his team is ready for the challenge.
“He’s going to play a high number of minutes and the ball is going to be in his hands,” Malone said. “He can shoot the three and get to the rim. He got to the foul line. So we just have to make things tougher for him. And I think our players understand that.”
Nuggets guard Torrey Craig, labeled a Mitchell stopper before the series was on the wrong end of the 57 points. After helping to hold Mitchell to a 1-12 shooting performance in February, Craig got a front seat for Mitchell’s theatrics.
Donovan Mitchell scored the third most points in NBA playoff history with 57 against the Nuggets.
An all-time performance despite the loss.
— KSL Sports (@kslsports) August 17, 2020
“It was frustrating was me being in foul trouble,” Craig said. “So I’ve just got to do a better job of controlling my fouls within a game. Sitting down long periods of time he was able to get in a rhythm. And when a player like him gets in a rhythm he’s a hard guy to stop.”
Jazz Hoping For More Control In Game Two
The Jazz are hoping to assume more control against the Nuggets in game two of the series. After losing consecutive overtime games against the Nuggets in the last two weeks, Jazz coach Quin Snyder said his team is focusing on late-game execution to improve the team’s chances.
Despite Mitchell’s performance, Snyder pointed to the guard’s eight-second violation and the ensuing defensive possession as lapses in attention to detail.
“Whether it’s a missed shot or a violation whatever the case is,” Snyder said. “That’s when we need to focus even more, they hit that three […] that gave them a big lift.”
Donovan Mitchell on the 8 second violation.
"I kind of put a little bit on myself for the 8 second violation and then they come down and hit a three that really changed the entire game that sequence right there."
— Ben Anderson (@BensHoops) August 17, 2020
The Jazz controlled the ball with under two minutes remaining and an opportunity to extend the lead to six or seven points. Instead, Mitchell failed to advance the ball past half court in under eight seconds, turning the ball over to Denver completely unforced.
Nuggets guard Jamal Murray hit a three-point shot with 1:39 remaining in the game to trim the Jazz lead to just one before forcing overtime.
“There’s certain plays that you have to tip your hat,” Snyder admitted. “When you do everything right and someone makes a big shot, you can’t necessarily control that. You just can make it really hard. Then there’s other things that you can control. We know we’re going to really need to defensive rebound again.”
CAN'T STOP, WON'T STOP. pic.twitter.com/CgFtCBZg0U
— Denver Nuggets (@nuggets) August 17, 2020
The Nuggets are one of the NBA’s best rebounding teams, a focus for the Jazz entering the series. Despite the Nuggets strength on the glass, the Jazz won the defensive rebounding battle 52-41 despite the loss.
Both Teams Remain Shorthanded
Both the Nuggets and the Jazz remain shorthanded heading into game two. Though guard Mike Conley rejoined the Jazz in the Orlando bubble, he will remain in quarantine until further notice. The Jazz are reportedly hoping the veteran will be available by game three after leaving the bubble to join his wife for their son’s birth.
Bojan Bogdanovic will miss the remainder of the season after undergoing season-ending wrist surgery in May. Center Ed Davis is out with an MCL injury, while Justin Wright-Foreman is no longer with the team in Orlando.
Gary Harris, Will Barton and Vlatko Cancar are all out for Game 2 of Nuggets/Jazz.
— Harrison Wind (@HarrisonWind) August 18, 2020
The Nuggets will be without wings Gary Harris and Will Barton for the tenth consecutive game. Both players have been dealing with injuries in the Orlando bubble, and have yet to make an appearance on the roster since the team began their seeding games.
The Jazz and the Nuggets game two tips-off at 2 pm MT. The game will be broadcast nationally on TNT and locally on AT&T SportsNet.
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