It appears that Donovan Mitchell is an important part of Jazz basketball.
In his much awaited return, Donovan Mitchell provided life and energy to the Utah Jazz. Oh and lots of points and assists and other things too. Behind Donovan Mitchell and Rudy Gobert the Jazz won with relative ease, 141-129?
Yes, you read that right. The Jazz scored 141 points tonight and it didn’t seem all that hard. In the first half Mitchell came out and took it to Dillon Brooks hitting shots and getting him in immediate foul trouble.
Having Mitchell on the floor does so much more than get inferior defenders in foul trouble, though. Mitchell is the catalyst to everything the Jazz do on offense. He is what bends the defense more than anyone else on the floor. His penetration forces defenses into rotations and because he makes the right play, it creates much more open, comfortable looks for his teammates than they would get otherwise.
But on top of that Mitchell brings an intensity and fire that this team was seriously lacking without him. That courage and leadership was palpable to start the game and you could see the swag was completely taken out of the Grizzlies from the beginning of the game. The Jazz need to be a tougher team. There are too many instances where they get lackadaisical on defense watching Rudy, or pull their foot off the gas with big leads. Having Mitchell come on the floor and lead them emotionally is something that doesn’t get enough credit. The incredible scoring and facilitating obviously is the most important part, but his demeanor is invaluable.
Rudy Gobert was god-like at times tonight. He was 9/11 from the field for 21 points, 13 rebounds, 4 block and 3 assists. There are so many times that Gobert changes everything. He comes in and the Memphis offense just stalls. But that’s what happens every game. The only thing you could complain about with Gobert is that he didn’t play enough, but that’s not his fault. For the game, Gobert played just under 36 minutes and that was having played the entire 4th quarter. Gobert has to be on the floor more and Snyder has to recognize that. Derrick Favors has looked really solid this series, it’s a great sign, but even good Favors pales in comparison to what Gobert is doing this season. You play your stars in the playoffs, and Quin Snyder needs to play Gobert more, especially if they want to steal games in Memphis.
For the Memphis Grizzlies they got a massive night from Ja Morant. He scored 47 points on 57% shooting. He was electric. And yet it wasn’t near enough. Because Ken Mauer wasn’t on the floor tonight, Rudy Gobert was able to play in this game. He affected everything on the floor and everyone’s else’s shot. The Jazz’s sub par perimeter defenders were able to overplay the three, as they always do, and the Grizzlies shot just 34% and made just 8 of them. That makes for a great chance for the Jazz to win every time.
Okay, that’s enough about the Grizzlies, I want to share this block from Rudy Gobert.
The Utah Jazz showed that they have the firepower to overwhelm the Grizzlies. The next step is figuring out ways to slow Ja Morant and the Jazz should find themselves back on top if they can do that. The question is, what adjustments will Quin Snyder make for Game 3?