Nearly all Jazz fans were begging for the Jazz to land the Denver Nuggets in the first round. No one wanted to see James Harden or Chris Paul in the playoffs yet again. We were all looking for some fresh faces and a favorable matchup. Well, Utah took advantage of it in games 2-4, but the Nuggets countered to extend this series in game 5.
Lest we forget, (almost) nobody saw this coming. Everyone thought the Jazz were down and out without Bojan Bogdonovic for the playoffs and Mike Conley for the first 3 games. (Shoutout to Eric Woodyard for this. He’s the real one here.)
The first quarter started off as well as you could hope for the Jazz. They jumped out to a quick 10 point lead. Joe and Royce carried the offensive torch by each hitting a couple threes and scoring 8 early points.
But Jokic exploded and kept the Nuggets neck and neck with the Jazz after 1. He had 21 points in the quarter and went 8/8 from the field. So far in this series the Jazz have made Jokic look like a lot less than the star that he is. This first quarter he broke out with a ridiculous shooting performance. Denver lead by 1 after the first quarter. Credit to them for not folding after getting punched in the mouth right out of the gate.
The back and forth battle continued in the 2nd quarter. Jazz were extremely balanced in scoring while the Nuggets had been the Jokic show. Then Michael Jordan Clarkson went OFF. He put on a scoring barrage and gave the Jazz a cushion to work with. The Jazz went into halftime with a 9 point lead thanks to a couple free throws by Rudy Gobert.
It just feels like the margin for error for the Nuggets is razor thin against the Jazz. Even if they play pretty well they are down.
Third quarter. Oh my goodness I’ve never seen someone’s missed shots bounce as far as Jokic’s do. So many offensive rebounds off his long 2s and 3s because they launch off the rim.
Denver continues to drop the big in the pick and roll. Conley and Donovan making them pay. Mike Malone may struggle to keep his job after getting obliterated by Quin in this matchup.
Wow and just like that the Nuggets are back in the game. They actually played a little defense and rode Murray’s scorching hot hand to make the game more interesting than it needed to be. Utah lead down to just 4 at the end of the 3rd quarter.
And the Jazz offensive woes continued. All while Murray continued to explode. He’s just insane when he gets it going. He is going to be a problem in this league for a long time. Denver ends up taking the lead for the first time since early in the 2nd quarter. Thankfully Donovan gets a little more aggressive to finally stop the bleeding.
Crunch time. My heart is pounding. Please close this out. I don’t want another game in this series. Don’t give the Nuggets hope. Don’t let them believe they have a chance. Just finish them off, get some rest, and get ready for round 2.
Rudy with a HUGE block! ... and it bounces right to Murray who hits a spin around jumper to give the Nuggets a 2 point lead with just 3:07 left. I’m glad basketball is back but I don’t miss this feeling. Oh wow... Royce refuses to shoot a wide open 3 and turns it over instead. Murray hits a miraculous 3 on the other end then berries a couple step back jumpers. Suddenly the Nuggets have a 9 point lead and this feels like it’s over. An unfortunate collapse late means the Jazz have to earn this series the hard way.
Nuggets ended up pulling out a big win and we’re on to game 6.
Where is the confident and aggressive Joe Ingles?
Joe Ingles had a stretch this year where he was playing like an all star. He had swagger. His 3 was dropping. He was a master in the pick and roll. Lately he has really disappeared on this Jazz roster. Even with Bojan Bogdonovic out. To the point where he’s passing up wide open 3s. I don’t know what the issue is, but the Jazz need him at the top of his game to close out this series and compete in the 2nd round.
Touché Denver. Touché.
Look, the Jazz embarrassed the Nuggets in games 2 and 3. Absolutely played them out of the arena. Then in a close out game the Jazz came out swinging and jumped out to an early double digit lead. But the Nuggets fought back and now this is a series. Now they have hope. That’s a dangerous thing for a team with this much talent.
Where does Quin Snyder go from here?
Quin Snyder has made a fool of Michael Malone for a large part of this series. But Denver made some good adjustments throughout this game (granted, some of that was just some lucky bounces and a crazy hot streak by Murray). I’m excited to see Coach Q hit the drawing board and win this chess match. I have confidence in him regrouping and coming up with an effective game plan for game 6 to counter Denver’s punch.