The NBA Playoffs have begun. The Play-In tournament is over, and the Memphis Grizzlies have secured the eighth seed, and the challenge of facing the league-leading Utah Jazz. Utah went 3-0 against Memphis this year in the regular season. All three games came in the span of one week, almost like a mini playoff series. But the young Grizzlies are motivated and coming off two inspiring victories with their season on the line. They’ll be ready to go tonight. How will the Jazz respond?
When: Sunday, May 23rd, 2021 7:30 PM (9:30 PM ET)
Where: Vivint Arena, Salt Lake City, UT
TV: TNT, AT&T Sportsnet
Radio: 97.5 PM, 1280 AM, Utah Jazz App
NBA Playoffs Bracket
What to Watch For
Donovan Mitchell vs Dillon Brooks
Dillon Brooks is a pest. He seems to love getting under the skin of his opponents. He just spent an entire game following Steph Curry so closely you would think they were attached at the hip. He’ll certainly have the defensive assignment against Jazz star Donovan Mitchell. In the regular season, that matchup did not go well for Brooks. In fact, Mitchell seemed to take the matchup personally, scoring at will all throughout those games.
Royce O'Neale and Dillon Brooks are both very good perimeter defenders.— Ben Anderson (@BensHoops) May 22, 2021
But, here are Ja Morant and Donovan Mitchell's stats this season in head-to-head matchups.
26.7 ppg 7.3 apg, 51 FG%/40 3p%
35.0 ppg 6.5 apg, 60 FG%/71 3p%
It didn’t matter if it was Brooks, Desmond Bane, Justise Winslow, or anyone else, Donovan Mitchell cooked them all. If the Jazz get this version of Donovan Mitchell, it may be a quick series.
After watching the Play-In Tournament and the first few games of the Playoffs, one thing has stood out to me above the rest. The referees are letting these games get physical.
Memphis thrives on physicality. Jonas Valanciunas will be bodying Rudy Gobert up all game. Ja Morant, Dillon Brooks, and the rest of the guards will be swiping at every dribble. The Jazz will be fouled a lot, and they may not get all the calls they want. How will they respond? If Gobert is getting hacked and not getting calls, the Jazz will need him to ignore it and move on. If he hangs back arguing with the officials, things will be ugly for Utah. The Jazz will need to not let the physicality take them out of their game. They will need to just continue to execute regardless of the officiating.
Now is the time for the Utah Jazz to prove to the league that they are for real. The Playoffs are where it really matters. Game one starts tonight. Let’s go.