The Memphis Grizzlies have arrived.
Through four games against Utah, Memphis has impressed. Ja Morant is playing like an All-Star, attacking the paint relentlessly and setting up the offense on his way to 23 points Monday night. Dillon Brooks is a spark plug and had 21. Jaren Jackson Jr. is finally looking healthy and added 21. Jonas Valanciunas is a beast inside, he had 14 points and a dozen boards. This is an outstanding team.
Utah, however, has an answer for everything Memphis throws at it, and now the Jazz are in command of the first-round series.
In Game 4, Utah was up 13 early in the fourth quarter and seemed in control, but then the Grizzlies made their push with a 9-0 run behind a brilliant quarter from De’Anthony Melton, who had 15 in the frame. It looked like this game would go down to the wire, but then Mike Conley sparked a Jazz 7-0 run, giving the Jazz a comfortable cushion they held on to until the final buzzer.
The Jazz went on to win 120-113 taking a commanding 3-1 series lead. Game 5 is back in Utah on Wednesday night.
The Jazz were up 3-1 a year ago in the first round against Denver, but the Nuggets stormed back and won the series. While that may be in the minds of the Jazz, this is a very different team. Bojan Bogdanovic is in the rotation, Mike Conley is comfortable in his role as floor general and secondary playmaker, and Derrick Favors back on the team and in the rotation. These don’t look like a jazz team that would choke and blow a big lead.
For the night, Donovan Mitchell scored 30 and had a well-rounded game that showed off the variety of ways he can score, Rudy Gobert added 17, and Sixth Man of the Year Jordan Clarkson poured in 24. The Jazz also thrived playing even higher defensively on the pick-and-roll, disrupting the Grizzlies.
Expect more of that in Game 5.