The Utah Jazz vs the Memphis Grizzlies is our first-round matchup after some exciting play-in action. This may not be what everyone expected but hey it’s what we got. This will definitely be an old-school matchup with the likes of lumbering centers Jonas Valanciunas and potential DPOY Rudy Gobert facing off.
Utah Jazz vs Memphis Grizzlies Playoff Preview
Grit and Grind Volume 2?
The Grizzlies have made the playoffs for the first time in franchise history without a Gasol brother on the roster. For that, they have Ja Morant to thank after a spectacular 35 point outing against the Golden State Warriors. With a 2-1 record, the Grizzlies are clearly the greatest play-in team of all time (at least for now). Will that translate to their first-round series against the Jazz? Probably not. The Grizzlies and Jazz actually both suffer from similar weaknesses. The most glaring is top-end talent. Yes, Morant is a special young player and Valanciunas is one of the better centers in the league, but they are more of a collective. Almost every Memphis player is really good but they don’t really have any of the top 20-30 players in the league which is what tends to matter most come playoff time.
The Grizzlies love to attack the paint. Morant is also not much of a shooter so they try to get to the rim as often as possible. It’s the most efficient spot on the basketball court, so this is a smart way to play. Their lack of three-point shooting hurts but they make up for most of that by being an elite defensive team. Memphis was the 6th best defense this season despite having only one notable defensive stud in Dillon Brooks. He’s gonna be a huge key for the Grizzlies’ chances since someone will need to put the clamps on Donovan Mitchell.
The Utah Jazz are Blessed
With Mitchell coming off a multi-week absence due to an ankle injury, the Jazz could not have faced a better first-round matchup than the Grizzlies. Memphis’s strength is attacking the basket, but the Jazz boast the best paint protector in the league in Gobert. That is going to seriously complicate things for the Grizzlies. Without reliable three-point shooting and Gobert clogging the lane, Memphis has a serious scoring issue. This is going to be a great series for the Jazz to start in and help get Mitchell his footing (literally). Had this been the Warriors or god forbid the Los Angeles Lakers, the Jazz could have been looking at a serious threat. Now they can ease Mitchell in and probably still walk away unscathed.
Mike Conley will be facing his former team in the playoffs for the first time, which will likely give him some extra motivation to win this series and show out on the road in Tennessee. The Jazz will not have their best player for almost any series, but the Grizzlies is the rare time when the Jazz actually has the best two players in a series. Combining all of this with their elite three-point shooting and you have yourself a very short series. Utah should thank their lucky stars that the play-in broke this way for them because no team out west has it as easy as the Jazz.
Prediction: Jazz Over Grizzlies in Four Games
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