Prior Losses Can Help Jazz Beat Nuggets In Game Five

Aug 25, 2020, 3:48 PM | Updated: 3:54 pm
Donovan Mitchell of the Utah Jazz (Photo by Kevin C. Cox/Getty Images)...
Donovan Mitchell of the Utah Jazz (Photo by Kevin C. Cox/Getty Images)
(Photo by Kevin C. Cox/Getty Images)

SALT LAKE CITY, Utah – The Utah Jazz appear to be on the verge of advancing to the second round of the playoffs. Leading the Denver Nuggets 3-1 in the opening round series, the Jazz are in the catbird seat to face either the Dallas Mavericks or Los Angeles Clippers in the Western Conference Semifinals. Despite being led by young star Donovan Mitchell, the experience earned in prior playoff losses can help the Jazz eliminate the Nuggets in game five.

Beyond owning a perfect 3-0 series lead, a 3-1 advantage in the playoffs has proven to be a nearly insurmountable advantage for most NBA teams trailing in the postseason. In the long history of the league, only 11 teams trailing 3-1 have come back to win a best of seven series.

While advancing is the ultimate goal, regardless of how many games a playoff series may run, playing fewer games lessens a teams chance for injury, and increases the opportunity for rest before the next series. In 2018, the Jazz lost a closeout game five opportunity against the Oklahoma City Thunder, before advancing to the second round in game six. However, the Jazz paid a steep price for failing to finish the Thunder quickly when point guard Ricky Rubio suffered a hamstring injury the entire second-round series against the Houston Rockets.

Quin Snyder on the Value of Experience

Jazz coach Quin Snyder said the team’s prior losses can be used as a learning tool before his team looks to finish their series with the Nuggets in game five.

“I think experience oftentimes is your best teacher,” Snyder said.

Donovan Mitchell, Joe Ingles, Royce O’Neale, and Rudy Gobert were all mainstays in the Jazz rotation the game five loss to the Thunder and now find themselves in the starting lineup as the team looks for their quickest series victory under Snyder.

“There are similarities that you can draw from that can either give you an additional perspective or reinforce perspective and experience,” Snyder said. “I think all those things are helpful.”

The Nuggets and Thunder series has had several similarities through the first four games. The Jazz lost game one in both series despite a hard-fought battle, before turning games two, three, and four in their favor.

The team looked primed to close the Thunder out in spectacular fashion before taking their foot off the accelerator in game five. The Jazz built a commanding 25 point lead in Oklahoma City before Paul George and Russell Westbrook put together a furious run to edge the Jazz, and force game six.

Seeing Value of Experience

Though the Jazz must still win another game before they can claim victory over the Nuggets, It seems clear the experience from the Jazz last three playoff series has had a major impact on guard Donovan Mithcell.

The Jazz guard is averaging a league-leading 39.5 points per game against the Nuggets through the first round of the playoffs, with two 50-plus point performances under his belt.

After consecutive difficult series against the Houston Rockets that exposed the weaknesses in Mitchell game, the All-Star guard has bounced back with perhaps the best postseason stretch in franchise history.

Beyond experience, Snyder said some players understand the importance of the moment based on their makeup alone.

“Donovan, for example, he’s been determined from day one,” Snyder said. “And aware at the level that you have to play to have success and certainly he’s hit that level and exceeded it.”

The Jazz and Nuggets tipoff game five at 4:30 pm MT. Game five will be broadcast nationally on TNT and locally on AT&T SportsNet.

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Prior Losses Can Help Jazz Beat Nuggets In Game Five