After a stunning Game 1 loss to the eighth-seeded Memphis Grizzlies, the top-ranked Utah Jazz have since reminded the NBA why they clinched the best regular season record in the first place.
Since the return of All-Star Donovan Mitchell, the Jazz have seized momentum heading to a possible 3-1 lead after Game 4 on Monday, May 31 (Tuesday, June 1, Manila time).
However, Mitchell alone is not fully responsible for Utah’s 11-point winning margin average in the last two games.
Former Memphis hero-turned-temporary-villain Mike Conley has been quietly averaging 23 points and a whopping 11.3 assists so far against his former team, and its no mystery why the dimes have been racking up for the first-time All-Star.
Mitchell has averaged 27 points in his two games back after missing a whole month prior, Bojan Bogdanovic is norming 20.7 points, and Fil-Am Sixth Man of the Year Jordan Clarkson has pumped out 15 points in just 24.7 minutes.
Meanwhile, possible three-time Defensive Player of the Year Rudy Gobert is doing damage on both ends with elite averages of 15.7 points, 14 rebounds, and 3.7 blocks on a stellar 87% shooting clip.
In the face of this overwhelming firepower on offense and defense, it’s no wonder why the Grizzlies star guard duo of Dillon Brooks and Ja Morant are not making much headway despite their gutsy outings so far.
Morant and Brooks are averaging 33.7 and 27 points per game, respectively, this series, but all that will be for naught if other key cogs like Jonas Valanciunas and Jaren Jackson Jr can’t squeeze out more offense for Memphis.
Still, this is the same Grizzlies squad that knocked out MVP finalist Stephen Curry and the Golden State Warriors from playoff contention just a few days ago, so the Jazz cannot let their guard down by any means. No team, no matter how high it is seeded, is safe.
Will the Jazz further pick up the tempo to seize a 3-1 series lead, or will the Grizzlies steal another game for the 2-2 tie and bring the best-of-seven duel back to square one?
The game begins on June 1, at 9:30 am Manila time.