AP Photo/Rick Bowmer
The Utah Jazz won a playoff series for the first time since 2018.
Utah defeated the Memphis Grizzlies 126-110 in commanding fashion in Wednesday’s Game 5 of their first-round playoff series at Vivint Smart Home Arena. Donovan Mitchell, Rudy Gobert, Jordan Clarkson and Bojan Bogdanovic led the way for the victors, who won four straight contests in the series after dropping Game 1 at home.
Solid showings from Ja Morant, Dillon Brooks and Jonas Valanciunas weren’t enough for the Grizzlies, who still have a bright future despite their early exit this season.
Notable Player Stats
- Donovan Mitchell, G, UTA: 30 PTS, 10 AST, 6 REB
- Rudy Gobert, C, UTA: 23 PTS, 15 REB, 3 BLK
- Jordan Clarkson, G, UTA: 24 PTS, 3 AST, 2 STL
- Bojan Bogdanovic, F, UTA: 17 PTS, 8 REB, 4 AST, 2 STL
- Ja Morant, G, MEM: 27 PTS, 11 AST, 7 REB
- Dillon Brooks, G, MEM: 27 PTS, 5 REB, 3 AST
Donovan Mitchell, Jazz Dominant from the Start
Nobody had a better record during the regular season than the Jazz, and anything short of a championship would be a disappointment after such an effort. Closeout contests at home are the type of games championship contenders win, so Utah had an opportunity to make a statement.
It wasted absolutely no time making that statement.
The Jazz poured in 47 points in the first quarter alone behind a blistering 9-of-15 shooting from three-point range with Mitchell, Bogdanovic, Royce O’Neale and Mike Conley all finding their stroke from outside. Throw in Gobert controlling the boards and Clarkson scoring, and the game seemed over from the start.
Yet it was Mitchell who stood out the most, as he set the tone from the opening tip by aggressively attacking the basket and challenging Brooks. Just for good measure, he drilled two triples in the final minute of the half to electrify the crowd and put a stamp on a dominant 24 minutes.
He was also a willing facilitator when the Grizzlies collapsed on him, which is a championship formula for Utah. If he plays like he did Wednesday, and the supporting cast is knocking down shots from the outside, any team will have difficulty stopping the Western Conference’s top seed.
The only thing that could damper the evening was injuries, and that happened when Conley was ruled out with right hamstring soreness. The silver lining is he will have additional time to heal thanks to the quick five-game victory, which made closing the series out in such convincing fashion all the more important.
As long as Conley is alright, the version of the Jazz on display in this game with Mitchell proving unstoppable and the secondary options hitting shots can win the title.
Memphis’ Fight Comes to an End
It’s not often a team trailing a series 3-1 through four games actually surpassed expectations, but that was the case for the Grizzlies.
After all, they took games to the wire as the No. 8 seed, stole one on the road against a Jazz squad that was 31-5 at home and have one of the league’s brightest young stars in Morant leading the way.
Unfortunately for Memphis, Wednesday felt like the end of the road from the start with Utah completely dialed in on the offensive end. It wasn’t for a lack of trying from the primary playmakers, though, as Morant did what he’s done all series by slashing through the lane and facilitating.
Valanciunas extended his game beyond the arc, and Brooks remained in attack mode and didn’t hesitate to shoot from the outside when opportunities presented themselves.
That trio didn’t have nearly enough firepower around it to keep up with the potent Jazz, especially since the Grizzlies were in comeback mode throughout the game. Perhaps no team in the NBA would have defeated this version of Utah, and Memphis not receiving more than six points from anyone outside of Morant, Brooks, Valanciunas and Jaren Jackson Jr. meant it had no chance.
Still, the future is bright, and Morant and Brooks in particular proved they can hang with some of the league’s best on a postseason stage.
Utah is headed to the second round, where it will face the winner of the series between the Los Angeles Clippers and Dallas Mavericks.