It was a historic night for Donovan Mitchell in Game 1 against the Denver Nuggets when he scored 57 points in a close overtime loss.
Considering that was one of the best performances in playoff history it’s not likely that we see that again, but with Mike Conley still waiting for his chance to join the team, he may need to do something close to that.
The good news is that Denver’s defense hasn’t shown any ability to stop Donovan Mitchell. Time and time again, Mitchell was able to get by his man and finish at the rim. What was exciting was his ability to pass the ball. Mitchell finished the game with a team leading 7 assists. And he would have had more if his teammates had hit more of the shots he set them up for.
It was a bright vision of the future where Mitchell takes the reigns of the offense and shoulders the brunt of the primary playmaking responsibilities. It was also a lot of fun.
Denver is surely going to adjust and try to find ways to stop Mitchell, but Mitchell showed that he might have the answer for everything they throw at him.
When: Wednesday, August 19, 2020 • 2:00 PM MT
Where: The NBA Bubble, Disney World
TV: TNT, AT&T SportsNet
Radio: 97.5 FM | 1280 AM The Zone
What to watch for
Who steps up for the Jazz besides Donovan Mitchell?
There were a couple bright spots outside of Donovan Mitchell in Game 1. Juwan Morgan got the surprise start and played surprisingly well for a rookie making his playoff debut.
Morgan played great defense and grabbed some tough rebounds. He also hit a corner three. Having him make such a solid impact was a welcome sight for a Jazz team missing two of its key players in Mike Conley and Bojan Bogdanovic.
The other bright spot was Joe Ingles taking 12 threes. If Ingles can take 12 threes again, that’s a huge win for the Jazz who are looking for every bit of edge they can. Against better defenses, it is difficult for Ingles to get that many shots, but Denver didn’t seem capable of stopping him. If that’s the case, Ingles could be a deciding factor.
And that’s the big question, who’s going to step up?
Jordan Clarkson played passably well, but to win a playoff game they need him to have a big night. Royce O’Neale struggled with foul trouble and only went 1/6 from the field. Can Royce be that difference maker? Can Rudy Gobert do a better job holding down Nikola Jokic? That could be the easiest answer to all of this.
Whoever it is, someone needs to step up for Utah if they want to get over the hump. But maybe that’s the thing that Jazz fans should be excited about. As a team the Jazz shot 34% from three while the Nuggets shot 54%. Can Utah have a few more threes fall and hold Denver to a lower percentage. The fact it took that type of shooting for Denver to squeeze out a win in overtime is a good sign the Jazz can improve on last game.
We’ll see if they can, otherwise they may be in too big a whole when Mike Conley eventually returns.