Five things to think about heading into Saturday’s Game 3 between the Utah Jazz and Memphis Grizzlies.
1- Two words: Ja Morant — What more can you say about the performance turned in by the Grizzlies star guard in Wednesday night’s Game 2 loss when Morant scored more points, regular season or postseason, than any other player in Grizz history when he filled it up for 47. In the first two games of this series, it doesn’t seem like anyone on the Jazz has had an answer for the reigning Rookie of the Year as no one on Utah’s team has been able to stay in front of Morant in this series. What will Ja do for an encore tonight especially when you consider how his family was treated by Jazz fans back in Game 2?
2- Bojan Bogdanovic — Say what you want about the return of Donovan Mitchell to the Jazz line-up but the best player for Utah in the first two games of this series has been Bojan Bogdanovic, who’s scored 47 points on 15 of 29 shooting, knocking down 5 3’s. All this after being held scoreless in the first half of Game 1 so Bojan is rolling, making that Utah offense with Mitchell, Mike Conley, Rudy Gobert and others, that much tougher to stop.
3- Foul Trouble — When the Grizzlies stunned the Jazz to open this series, they played a physical brand of basketball which led to Gobert fouling out early in the fourth quarter. But in game two, the referees called a much tighter game and it cost the Grizz. Jonas Valaciunas and Dillon Brooks each picked up two fouls in the first six minutes. Brooks, JV and Jaren Jackson Jr. were each saddled with three fouls before the half and while no one fouled out for Memphis in that Game 2 loss, the early whistles allowed the Jazz to jump out to a 22-point lead, leaving the Grizz in rally mode for the rest of the game. How the refs call the game tonight will be pivotal to both team’s success as the Grizzlies can’t afford to have three starters watching from the bench for a large part of the first half.
4- The Bench — While the NBA Playoffs are made for the starters playing major minutes, they can’t play all 48 (though Ja did play 43 on Wednesday night). So the Grizzlies need something from their bench and so far, the bench has been pedestrian at best, scoring a grand total of 33 points in two games. Utah’s reserves have tallied 76. That’s too big an advantage for the #1 seed in the West.
5- Home vs. Road — Thanks to a split in Salt Lake City, the Grizzlies now own homecourt advantage in this series, handing the Jazz just its sixth home loss of the year in Game 1. But the Grizz were actually a better road team this year than they were at FedExForum, going 20-16 away from the Forum and just 18-18 at the Grindhouse. Utah also boasted the fourth best road record during the regular season. Here’s hoping 10,000 fans help the Grizzlies maintain the homecourt edge tonight.