The Utah Jazz had the best record in basketball this season, but it only took one game into their playoff run to push their backs against the wall. The Memphis Grizzlies stunned them in Game 1 by overcoming a 14-point deficit to win, 112-109, and that creates some serious pressure for the Jazz entering Game 2.
Teams that have gone up 2-0 in a series have gone on to win 399 out of 426 possible matchups, giving the team in that deficit only a 6.3 percent chance at coming back, but remember, many of those teams that came back lost their two openers on the road, and at least had three home games ahead of them. A Jazz loss would force them to travel to Memphis in need of at least one road win just to avoid a sweep.
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Fortunately, reinforcements are coming. Jazz star Donovan Mitchell missed Game 1, but will return for Game 2. That should give Utah the firepower it needs to keep up with Memphis' young talent. Here's everything you need to know entering Game 2.
(1) Utah Jazz vs. (8) Memphis Grizzlies
- Date: Wednesday, May 26 | Time: 10 p.m. ET
- Location: Vivint Arena -- Salt Lake City, Utah
- TV: TNT | Stream: TNT
- Odds: UTA -500; MEM +400 | O/U: 219 (via William Hill Sportsbook)
Jazz: Mitchell will be back for Game 2, but how will he look? He's been out since the middle of April, and we've seen with LeBron James how much an ankle injury can linger. The Jazz don't necessarily need Mitchell to be at full strength to win this series, but they're a team that relies so heavily on 3-point variance that Mitchell's individual greatness is a meaningful alternative. Utah shot 27.5 percent from behind the arc in Game 1 and still nearly won. Mitchell might've pushed them over the top.
They'll have better shooting games in this series, but it's not out of the question that they're worse once or twice. That's where Mitchell comes in. If he can still beat mismatches off of switches and get to the line, Utah will have a viable alternative method of generating points, especially late in games. If he can't? Memphis has a real chance here.
Grizzlies: Utah plays mostly drop coverage against pick and roll. The idea is to take away the rim and force opponents to shoot from the mid-range. Well, the Grizzlies take the most floaters in the NBA, and they're the sixth-most efficient offense in basketball in that area of the court, according to Synergy Sports. Ja Morant and Dillon Brooks had their way in floater range in Game 1.
Utah will certainly adjust in Game 2, and how does Memphis respond? Will Morant take more 3-pointers? He attempted only one, a miss, in Game 1, but hit 5-of-10 against the Warriors in the play-in round. If Utah tries to take away those floaters, will there be opportunities for backdoor cutters? These are the adjustments that win and lose playoff series.
The Jazz went 31-5 at home this season. They had the NBA's best point-differential comfortably, and with or without Mitchell, their shooting should be far better in Game 2. The Grizzlies will have a chance to make this a series in Memphis, but on their home floor, expect the Jazz to make a statement on Tuesday. Pick: Jazz -9.5