The Utah Jazz were this close to being able to clinch home court with a win tonight. Unfortunately, the Portland Trail Blazers had other plans. Damian Lillard was an absolute nightmare tonight scoring 36 points and dishing out 10 assists. Everything he shot just seemed to go in. Damian Lillard shows he still has a key to Salt Lake City and that he’s part owner.
Utah looked like a team who was playing on the back end of a back to back. This was their third game in four nights. Whoever was the schedule maker who gave the Jazz a back to back to end the season: Thanks?
Portland dominated this from the opening tip. Damian Lillard had that look in his eyes. It didn’t matter whether it was Royce O’Neale, Donovan Mitchell, Joe Ingles, Ricky Rubio, Dante Exum, or Jae Crower, Lillard made ridiculous shots: step backs, fadeaways, curls, floaters, impossible layups. Damian Lillard was a point god. God have mercy on the New Orleans Pelicans because they’re going to need it.
Donovan Mitchell had a rough night. They say rookies struggle in the playoffs, and in Donovan Mitchell’s first playoff like atmosphere, he struggled. He didn’t hit his first shot until late in the second quarter. Mitchell finished with 17 points but on 6-28 shooting. The silver lining of this game is there’s going to be A LOT of game film to review for Donovan before his first playoff series begins this weekend.
Utah’s patented defense actually was there tonight. Unfortunately, Utah’s December offense made a surprise appearance. Utah shot 37.1% from the field for the game. Without Utah’s defense, Utah gets blown out like the Golden State Warriors last night. It’s a testament to Utah’s defense that they were only one run away from getting back into the game almost at all times tonight. The problem was they didn’t have one run in them.
There were a lot of problems with the Jazz’s offense. Joe Ingles and Jae Crowder passing up wide open threes. Jazz played tense. Credit to Portland’s defense. They swarmed the ball. Part of why Donovan struggled so mightily tonight was Utah’s inability to get anything going inside. Referees decided to let this be a physical game down low and that didn’t bode well for Utah’s big men.
With the loss, Utah has lost home court. Crazy how fickle that is—*shakes fist at the sky and screams ATLANTA!!!!!!!!*—that one game can change everything in this year’s Western Conference. Oklahoma City gets lucky in the three way tie for fourth because of Utah’s three losses to them. Utah will go on the road and face the Thunder in the 1st round of the Western Conference Playoffs.
The Thunder haven’t matched up against Utah since December. DECEMBER. The team that the Thunder played then no longer exists. This series is going to be hard fought and well coached. This was probably the matchup that Utah wanted least, but that probably goes for the Thunder as well.
Most likely the Jazz will be playing on Saturday when they face the Oklahoma City Thunder. Times have yet to be announced.