Utah Jazz hope in good health with a 3-1 lead, Donovan Mitchell in the lead


Game recap: Jazz 120, Grizzlies 113

Utah used a late 10-0 run, including a pair of threes from former Memphis star Mike Conley, to win Game 4.

The Jazz are in good shape in their first round streak with the Grizzlies. And if they were in great shape, this series would probably be over.

Utah’s only loss came, if you recall, when Donovan Mitchell was ruled out of Game 1 at the last moment by medics due to a persistent ankle sprain which Mitchell said was healed. . Either way, Mitchell was miraculously declared fit for duty just hours after that contest – funny how it happens when a No.1 seed loses Game 1 – and since then he and the Jazz have snatched three consecutive wins.

The story here is this: Utah is going one direction with their health, and it looks like the rest of the league is going the other.

Look around: Anthony Davis is unlikely to play Tuesday in a pivotal fifth game of the series tied with the Lakers-Suns. Speaking of this series, Phoenix still needs a little more proof that Chris Paul is totally back from a shoulder spanking. Joel Embiid was unable to return in the second half of Monday’s eventual loss to the Wizards due to knee pain. The Nuggets are trying to do without Jamal Murray and the Celtics without Jaylen Brown.

And Luka Doncic, after being a pain in the neck for the Clippers in a surprising pair of wins in Dallas, now literally gets his fair share in return in a series that is now tied 2-2.

If this trend continues, the best team may not win this year’s championship; the healthiest team will.

But back to Jazz: With Mitchell in the fold of the last three games, this series lacked a lot of suspense. He’s their only star and their best creator outside of dribbling. Because of this, the Jazz can space out the floor and rely on its strength, which is a 3-point shot. When those shots fall, which has been the case since Mitchell returned in Game 2, the Jazz are tough to defend because their 3-point talent runs so deep.

They made half of their 34 shots against 3 on Monday. When you hit 17, that’s usually the recipe for success (just a guess, without looking for a mountain of stats). And oddly enough, Mitchell was the worst of the field, missing five of seven. Still, he was in full attack mode all night, scoring 30 points mainly by drawing enough contact to shoot 12 of 13 from the free throw line.

The trip from here, assuming the Jazz run their business this turn, is to make sure their constant deep shooting is a championship-worthy strategy. Taking the Warriors out of this conversation – they had three stars – was there a lucky 3-party team to win a ring? The Rockets failed all those years with James Harden and fueled every doubt that Mike D’Antoni’s system would end up being a big playoff failure.

Jazz is built pretty much the same, with Mitchell taking on the role of Harden. In the playoffs, with teams engaged in a best-of-seven series, there’s more time for adjustments and scout reports get smarter. When those plans don’t fall, there has to be a plan B. And unless we’ve missed something, Jazz doesn’t.

But that’s a review for the next round, again, assuming this one heads for a logical ending. The Grizzlies are the youngest team in this playoff series and they’re busy trying to learn what May basketball is like. Meanwhile, the Jazz are rolling and throwing long shots and winning, which is the envy of most teams currently in the playoffs.

Therefore, maybe the hero of this Utah-Memphis series is… the medical director of Team Jazz who suddenly changed his mind.

“The biggest part was I felt like I should have played,” said Mitchell.

Its good. The No.1 seed in the West suddenly has a healthy outlook, on this series, on the chances of going further, and especially on a list that no longer deals with doctors.

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Shaun Powell has covered the NBA for over 25 years. You can send him an e-mail here, find his archives here and follow him on Twitter.

The views on this page do not necessarily reflect the views of the NBA, its clubs, or Turner Broadcasting.




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