Former Jazz Players Shining In Postseason

Apr 24, 2024, 2:40 PM

Rudy Gobert #27 of the Minnesota Timberwolves dunks the ball against Kevin Durant #35 of the Phoeni...

Rudy Gobert #27 of the Minnesota Timberwolves dunks the ball against Kevin Durant #35 of the Phoenix Suns (Photo by David Berding/Getty Images)

(Photo by David Berding/Getty Images)

SALT LAKE CITY – Several former Utah Jazz players are shining on the NBA’s biggest stage to open the playoffs.

With the Cleveland Cavaliers and Minnesota Timberwolves both 2-0 to open the postseason, a handful of fan favorites from Utah are poised to advance to the second round.

Here’s a look at how these former Jazz players have saved their best basketball for the most important stretch of the season.

Related: Minnesota Fanbase Welcomes Alissa Pili During Playoffs

Timberwolves Crushing Suns

Perhaps the most surprising outcome through the first two games of the playoffs is the dominant fashion in which the Timberwolves have handled the Phoenix Suns.

The Suns are headlined by superstars Kevin Durant, Devin Booker, and Bradley Beal, but have been outscored by the Timberwolves by an average of 18.5 points in two contests.

Former Jazz center Rudy Gobert has been dominant averaging 16.0 points and 12.5 rebounds while anchoring a defense that has held the Suns below 100 points in both outings.

Related: Which Lottery Pick Fits Best With Jazz?

Gobert has quieted the critics around the country who doubted his ability to perform in the playoffs after several early exits during his time with the Jazz.

Timberwolves guard Mike Conley had a quiet game one but bounced back in game two helping steady Minnesota’s offense in the first half.

The former Jazz All-Star is averaging 11.0 points and 5.5 assists while turning the ball over only three times in two games.

Perhaps the biggest surprise of the postseason has been the play of Nickeil Alexander-Walker who made 51 appearances in Utah.

Alexander-Walker has averaged 14.0 points, 3.5 assists, and 3.0 rebounds while shooting 50 percent from the floor and over 38 percent from three to open the series.

The guard has also played stellar defense against the Suns talented backcourt.

Minnesota will look to extend its stranglehold on the series to 3-0 when they travel to Phoenix on Friday.

Mitchell Carrying Cavaliers Past Magic

Despite a difficult close to the regular season, Donovan Mitchell and the Cavaliers have found their rhythm in the playoffs against the Orlando Magic.

Like the Timberwolves, the Cavaliers have held Orlando below 100 points in each of their first two games, while Mitchell leads all scorers in the series.

Related: Utah Jazz Fan Playoff Rooting Guide

The former Jazz guard is averaging 26.5 points while adding 5.0 rebounds and 3.5 assists in 36 minutes per game.

Mitchell battled knee and nasal injuries over the final two months of the NBA schedule, but has regained his star power in the opening round of the postseason.

The Cavaliers will hope to take a 3-0 lead when they travel to Orlando on Thursday.

Tougher Playoffs Ahead For Former Jazz Players

While Jazz fans may be feeling the pinch of their former star players’ postseason success, their playoff runs could soon meet a much more difficult reality.

The Cavaliers are all but certain to face the top-seeded Boston Celtics in the second-round playoffs if they can get past the Magic. Boston won a league-leading 64 games this season and won the regular season series 2-1 against Cleveland.

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The Timberwolves are likely headed towards a second-round matchup with the defending champion Denver Nuggets.

The Nuggets have taken a 2-0 lead over the Los Angeles Lakers, and dismissed the Wolves in five playoff games last season.

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Ben Anderson is the Utah Jazz insider for KSL Sports and the co-host of Jake and Ben from 10-12p with Jake Scott on 97.5 The KSL Sports Zone. Find Ben on Twitter at @BensHoops or on Instagram @BensHoops.

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Former Jazz Players Shining In Postseason