Jazz Head To Memphis For Game Three
May 28, 2021, 3:02 PM
(Photo by Justin Ford/Getty Images)
SALT LAKE CITY, Utah – The Utah Jazz are heading to Memphis to face the Grizzlies in game three of their opening-round playoff series.
The two teams split the first two games of the series with Memphis winning game one, and the Jazz evening the series in game two.
The Jazz head into Memphis knowing they’ll have to win at least one game on the road if they want to advance out of the first round of the series.
Can Jazz Improve On Strengths In Game Three?
The best teams in the NBA tend to get better as a postseason series goes along, especially against lesser competition.
While the Jazz and Grizzlies stand tied at one game apiece, the Jazz have been the better team the majority of the time on the floor.
Memphis has done little to slow the Jazz offensive attack, allowing Utah to attempt 43 three-point shots per game, identical to their season average.
Though the Jazz shot just 25 percent in their series opener, they’d gladly welcome 40+ attempts for the remainder of the series, especially with the quality of look they are getting.
▪️ Home-Court Advantage
▪️ Three-Point Shooting
▪️ Rudy Gobert
▪️ The Awful Quarter
— Ben Anderson (@BensHoops) May 28, 2021
Now, the Jazz must show that they’ve learned the Grizzlies’ weaknesses over the first two games of the series, and continue to use them as pressure points in Memphis.
In addition to creating open looks, the Jazz have punished the Grizzlies with their pick and roll play. Mike Conley is averaging 13 assists per game through two games and surgically picked the Memphis defense apart, including an eight-point, eight-assist fourth quarter on Wednesday.
Donovan Mitchell scored 25 points in 26 minutes in his game two return, while Rudy Gobert has added 16 points, 14 rebounds, and 3.5 blocks while shooting 86 percent from the floor to open the series.
The Jazz are deeper, more talented, and more experienced than Memphis, and can restore balance in the series by taking game three if they continue to rely on the obvious advantages they have in the series.
Will Morant And Brooks Keep This Up?
The Grizzlies have been mostly a two-man show through the opening week of the playoffs, relying heavily on the offensive abilities of Ja Morant and Dillon Brooks.
Morant exploded for 47 points in game two helping the Grizzlies erase a 22 point first-half deficit before ultimately falling short in the fourth.
For the series, Morant is averaging 36.5 points, 5.5 assists, and 4.5 rebounds while shooting 55 percent from the floor.
— 🙅♂️- Memphis Grizzlies (@memgrizz) May 27, 2021
Brooks was the star of game one, scoring 31 points while knocking down 13-26 shots from the floor.
For the series, Brooks is averaging 27 points, 4.5 rebounds, and 1.5 assists while shooting 57 percent from both the floor and three-point line.
Both players have shown a willingness to exploit the Jazz defensive soft spot in the midrange, shooting incredible percentages to open the series.
Even the brightest stars in the NBA generally don’t maintain those types of shooting percentages over a playoff series, especially as opposing coaches correct their defensive schemes to limit their effectiveness.
The question for Memphis becomes, how long can Morant and Brooks keeps this up, and if it falters, where else do they look?
The key matchup in the series will pair Morant against Conley in a battle of Memphis legends.
The Grizzlies sent Conley to Utah to make way for their young star, and the trade has greatly benefited both teams.
Both players had big second halves in game two as Morant scored 25 points and dished out four assists to keep the pressure on the Jazz in their home arena.
MIK3 🏔️🏔️🏔️ pic.twitter.com/SyJu2IS2qK
— utahjazz (@utahjazz) May 27, 2021
Conley meanwhile scored 13 points and handed out 11 assists over the final two periods and brought the type of poise in a playoff game the Jazz envisioned when they traded for him.
Conley doesn’t have to outscore Morant for the Jazz to win in Memphis, but he’s got to keep his shooting percentages up and keep his team from panicking while playing in front of the fan base that once worshiped him with the Grizzlies.
The Jazz and Grizzlies will tip-off game three at 7:30 pm MT. The game will be broadcast on ESPN and AT&T SportsNet.
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