Five things to think about heading into Wednesday night’s Game 2 between the Utah Jazz and Memphis Grizzlies.
1- The return of Donovan Mitchell — After being a late scratch from Sunday’s series opener, a 112-109 Grizzlies win, Mitchell returns to the line-up for the first time since April 16th. Mitchell has missed Utah’s last 17 games with an injured ankle but did average over 26 points a game this year, good for 11th best in the NBA. He also torched the Grizzlies in the two games he played against them this year, scoring 35 points in back to back Jazz wins.
2- Utah’s 3-point shooting — See #1. With Mitchell out of the line-up in game one, the Jazz struggled from behind the arc, going just 12 for 47 after coming into the postseason as the NBA’s best 3-point shooting team, making an average of almost 17 a game, shooting the 3 at a 39-percent clip. The Grizzlies can’t expect the Jazz to have another off night from outside the arc.
3- Bright lights — It didn’t look like the Grizzlies were in awe of playing on the game’s biggest stage!! Despite having seven players making their playoff debuts, the Next Gen Grizz more than handled the pressure on their way to a Game one win where both Dillon Brooks (31 pts) and Ja Morant (26 pts) set franchise records for the most points in a playoff debut. What will Brooks and Morant do for an encore?
4- Jonas vs. Rudy — Keep an eye inside tonight as it’s a battle between two of the NBA’s top big men in the Grizzlies Jonas Valanciunas and Utah’s Rudy Gobert. Valanciunas got the best of Gobert in the opener, mainly because Jonas was able to stay on the floor. Gobert battled foul trouble all night in game one, fouling out early in the fourth quarter with 11 points and 15 rebounds in just 25 minutes. Valanciunas had his typical double-double with 15 points and 12 boards, playing 39 minutes. Neither team can afford to lose their anchor in the middle.
5- 0-2 at home — The Grizzlies with a chance to really grab a stranglehold in this series with a win tonight. In NBA Playoff history, only 4 teams have been able to rally to win a best of seven series, after losing the first two games on the home floor. Utah, though, was an NBA-best 31-5 at home during the regular season…but 0-1 during the postseason.