There is nothing like NBA playoff basketball.
Game one of the Jazz-Nuggets series kicked off the 2020 NBA Playoffs, and they started out with a bang. A brilliant 57-point game from Donovan Mitchell wasn’t enough to secure the W, in a game that he and Jamal Murray were going back and forth for the majority of closing moments. Mitchell’s 57 points were the highest by a Utah Jazz player in playoffs franchise history, and the third highest in NBA history behind Michael Jordan’s 63 and Elgin Baylor’s 61. Mitchell also added 9 points and 7 assists in just an amazing individual performance on all levels. You can’t ask for much more out of Donovan Mitchell than what you got today ladies and gentlemen. It’s unfortunate that it came in a loss, but sometimes that’s just how it goes in life.
The entirety of this game was really fun to watch and great entertainment for 11:30 AM on a Monday morning. This game featured lots of things that make NBA basketball great: Lots of points from young stars, big guys battling in the paint, and... Joe Ingles talking trash to VIRTUAL FANS.
With Mike Conley being out of the bubble for the birth of his son Elijah, Quin Snyder threw Juwan Morgan into the starting lineup. Morgan had not started a single game before today, and had played limited minutes in his first NBA season. Morgan played some awesome minutes for the Jazz in game one. In 25 minutes he snagged 7 rebounds and hit a big three with the game close in the third quarter. Despite being 1-5 from the field, Morgan was a game-high +17 in plus-minus. He played hard, hustled, and defended very well at the four spot in his first NBA start. Proud of you Juwan, keep it up!
Donovan Mitchell was absolutely terrific in this game. After the first quarter, it was starting to look like he might have an off day, with just 2 points on 1-5 shooting. NA FAM. Mitchell went on to score 55 points in the 2nd quarter through overtime, along with 9 rebounds and 7 assists. This crazy double-clutch dunk got the Jazz going during a slump in the second quarter.
Don went on one of those crazy stretches when he gets that look in his eyes, and it was honestly amazing to watch.
Unfortunetly for the Jazz, most of Donovan’s points in the fourth quarter were matched by Jamal Murray on the Nuggets. The both of them were going back and forth in the fourth quarter and it was some great basketball.
Donovan Mitchell and Jamal Murray exchanging buckets in crunch time. Playoff basketball pic.twitter.com/ZHwF8cQBNF— NBA Central (@TheNBACentral) August 17, 2020
With under two minutes to go, the Jazz were up four with the ball and things were looking great. Donovan Mitchell was on a tear, and they had all of the momentum heading towards the final stretch. Mitchell got a little too casual bringing the ball up the court, and was called for an 8-second violation. Directly off this violation, Jamal Murray hit a three and you could feel the momentum swing. Murray hit another clutch three the next time down after some Mitchell free-throws and tied up the game. That truly felt like a missed opportunity from the Jazz to put the dagger in the chest. If the Jazz get a bucket there, which they probably do because the Nuggets couldn’t stop Mitchell, they go up 6 with a minute and a half left, still with all of the momentum. Who knows, maybe Murray would have brought them back in it, because that dude was really on one in the closing moments. Donovan brought up the 8 second call and stated some regret.
Donovan Mitchell was upset with himself for the late violation: "I put a bit on myself for the 8-second violation, and then they come down and hit a 3. That sequence changed the whole game. … That’s my fault. That’s terrible on my part. I’ve got to be more aware."— Eric Walden (@tribjazz) August 17, 2020
To place a loss on one simply play is just not ever the right thing to do. There were so many other opportunities for the Jazz to win this game, and it just didn’t happen. But that 8-second call really hurt, especially because Donovan was playing the game of his life.
The Jazz overall played a really good game in their opener vs the Nuggets. Rudy Gobert had some great defensive plays on Nikola Jokic, including some game-saving defense on the final possession of regulation. Gobert posted 17 points, 7 rebounds and 4 blocks. Joe Ingles had himself a great game helping out offensively with 19 points, 6 assists and 5 rebounds. Without Mike Conley and Bojan Bogdanovic, the Jazz will need that Joe every single game to stay alive in the playoffs.
Despite the loss, there was a lot to be excited about in game one. If the Nuggets don’t shoot the lights out from three at 53 percent, the Jazz win that game easily. Donovan Mitchell will need to continue to go bonkers if the Jazz stand a chance, and can hopefully keep them in the series long enough until Mike Conley can return. For now, Jazz are down 0-1 and will look for a win in game two on Wednesday.