Jazz Can Closeout Nuggets In Game Five

Aug 24, 2020, 5:52 PM
Jamal Murray of the Denver Nuggets (Photo by Kevin C. Cox/Getty Images)...
Jamal Murray of the Denver Nuggets (Photo by Kevin C. Cox/Getty Images)
(Photo by Kevin C. Cox/Getty Images)

SALT LAKE CITY, Utah – The Utah Jazz can close out the Denver Nuggets in game five. After a thrilling game four victory, the Jazz own a 3-1 series advantage against the higher-seeded Nuggets team.

The Jazz appeared to position themselves to face the Nuggets late in the NBA seeding games in Orlando by resting players in key spots during games, and after four games, it’s not difficult to understand why. The Jazz have repeatedly abused the Nuggets porous perimeter defense, scoring at least 124 points in each of the four outings.

The team’s 131.1 offensive rating is by far the highest in the NBA, besting the second-place Toronto Raptors by more than eight points per 100 possessions.

Jazz Far From Perfect In Closeout Games

The Jazz have struggled in closeout games since returning to the playoffs three seasons ago. In 2017, the Jazz lost game six at home to the Los Angeles Clippers before winning a rare game seven on the road to advance to the second round.

In 2018, the Jazz held a 25 lead over the Oklahoma City Thunder in game five on the road, before eventually losing by eight after a disastrous second half. The Jazz were able to finish the Thunder in game six in Salt Lake City before falling to the Houston Rockets in the second round.

The Nuggets don’t have the added help of playing at home in gave five, a traditional stronghold for the team that earned homecourt advantage before the series. In turn, if the Nuggets can earn a win where the Jazz have struggled over the last several seasons, they won’t be able to return home to stop the bleeding.

The good news for the Jazz? Coach Quin Snyder believes his teams has already displayed the urgency needed to win a closeout game.

“Our game last night in many respects felt like that,” Snyder said. “The intensity level, it’s visible, tangible when you watch.”

After consecutive blowout victories, the Jazz overcame an eight point deficit to close the Nuggets out late in the fourth quarter.

Snyder said the intensity of the playoffs is bringing out the best in this series, and elsewhere in the bubble playoffs.

“I think you saw that with both Donovan and Jamal Murray,” Snyder said. “Those two performances were really unique and befitting of the playoffs and the series and we’ve got our hands full every night against Denver.”

Teams Having Closeout Success In Orlando

Despite the Jazz struggles in recent seasons, the NBA bubble has been unkind to teams fighting to stay alive in closeout games.

Though it’s a small sample size, the Boston Celtics eliminated the Philadelphia 76ers in a four game sweep. Meanwhile, the Toronto Raptors beat the Brooklyn Nets, ending their playoff run in the first possible closeout opportunity.

The Jazz would benefit from eliminating the Nuggets in game five on Tuesday. After Luka Doncic’s heroics against the Clippers on Sunday, the Mavericks pulled into 2-2 series tie with the heavily favored Los Angeles team. With a game six guaranteed, the soonest either team could close out the series would be Thursday.

With playoff games being held every other day, the Jazz would be afforded some much-needed rest ahead of their matchup with either the Mavericks or the Clippers.

The Jazz can closeout the Nuggets Tuesday’s game five at 4:30 pm MT. The game will be broadcast nationally on TNT and locally on AT&T SportsNet.

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