The first game of any NBA playoff series is prime soil for overreactions. Understandable given how tense these series can get and how much every game matters. But things change game-to-game in tightly contested series.
Game 1 of the series between the Utah Jazz and Los Angeles Clippers was rather unconventional and a lot of things that happened are unlikely to happen again. But some things will continue. Here’s a breakdown of what to expect going forward.
The Clippers will continue to switch everything, and it will continue to be something of a problem
Utah hasn’t dealt well with 1-5 switching teams and struggled at times on Tuesday against it so don’t expect this to go away anytime soon. The only way it will go away is if Donovan Mitchell goes off for 50 next time out and roasts the guys switching onto him much like he did in Game 1. Speaking of Mitchell scoring...
Mitchell won’t score 45 every night, but it’s likely to happen again
In Game 1, Mitchell was spectacular, getting the fourth 40-point playoff game of his career and third 45-point playoff outing. And while he probably won’t be putting up that many points on a nightly basis, don’t bet against him lighting up the scoreboard on the regular. In these playoffs he’s averaging 1.02 points per minute. Yes, Mitchell has scored more points than he’s played minutes.
Kawhi Leonard will dominate in multiple games
Leonard’s round one performance was spectacular and well-documented. He didn’t live up to that in Game 1 of the second round with just 23 points on 9 of 19 shooting. But to believe that round one excellence is completely behind him is foolhardy. Leonard will probably end the series with at least one 40-point game and more games with more than 25 points than under.
Conley’s return will unlock Gobert’s offense
Rudy went 2 for 6 with just 10 points in the opening game. Without Mike Conley, who has played amazingly with the DPOY this season, Gobert will likely continue to struggle in the scoring department. Joe Ingles is the only other reliable passer in the pick and roll but he’s not as equipped as Conley to attack LA’s switching.
When Gobert has shared the court with Conley in the playoffs the former has shot 81.8 percent. Without Conley on the court, Gobert is making just 55.6 percent of his attempts. That alone should speak for itself.
Marcus Morris will get hot and it could cost Utah a game
Morris went 1 for 9 in Game 1 and that no doubt helped the Jazz mount and complete their comeback. This is a man who shot 47.3 percent from deep in the regular season and 39.7 percent in Round 1 of the playoffs. He had an off night in the first game of the series against the Mavericks too (0 for 6), but had multiple great games like a 4 for 8 night and a sizzling 7 for 9 outing in the series-deciding Game 7.
There will be at least one game, perhaps several, where Morris just won’t seem to miss, and the Jazz need to be ready for it.
The Jazz will keep hunting Morris and Kennard
Both Morris and Kennard are important support players with their shooting. But these two gave up a combined 44 points on defense per NBA.com with Jazz players shooting 16 of 29 when defended by either. Bojan Bogdanovic and Donovan Mitchell were the main culprits in exploiting these matchups. And when Mike Conley returns, you best bet he’ll get in on the action as well.