DimeMag

Ja Morant And Dillon Brooks Helped The Grizzlies Stun The Jazz In Game 1

After beating the Spurs and Warriors in the play-in tournament to earn the 8-seed, the Grizzlies’ reward was a trip to Utah to take on the Jazz, who boasted the NBA’s best record in the regular season.

Utah was without Donovan Mitchell once again for Game 1, as the star guard missed his 17th straight game as he works his way back from a sprained ankle, but the Jazz came into the night still the strong favorites to win the game and the series. However, for anyone expecting Memphis’ young squad to be overwhelmed by the playoff stage, the Grizzlies provided a forceful rebuttal in the form of a sensational performance up and down the roster.

It started ugly for Memphis, who scored 17 in the first quarter and trailed by seven going into the second quarter, but once they found their footing, they never relented. Dillon Brooks, as he has so often in the stretch run for the Grizzlies, provided the early energy and scoring punch, finishing the night with 31 points to lead all scorers.

Down the stretch, as it was against Golden State in the play-in, it was the Ja Morant show, as he had 10 of his 26 points in the fourth, attacking downhill and showing his terrific abilities as a finisher at the rim and in the floater game.

For Utah, it was a game defined by their struggles to contain Memphis’ backcourt and their own inability to knock down threes. The Jazz were the fourth best shooting team in the regular season at 38.9 percent from deep, but were a woeful 12-of-47 in Game 1 (25.5 percent), unable to hit good looks, contested looks and anything in between all night. Still, they had a shot to tie the game at the end of regulation, but Memphis forced Bojan Bogdanovic, one of Utah’s few positive offensive contributors on the night with 29 points, into a contested three from the top of the key that missed wide left as Memphis escaped with a win despite some free throw woes late.

It was a rather stunning performance from the Jazz, who led by double digits early even amid some sloppy play and most figured they would eventually right the ship. Credit to the Grizzlies for making life uncomfortable for Utah, who could never find a rhythm offensively against Memphis’ pressure on defense. On the other end of the floor, the Grizzlies asserted themselves offensively, as they only hit 7-of-20 threes, but did a much better job getting to the basket and dominated the offensive glass with 17 offensive boards.

Game 2 will be very interesting to see how Utah responds, as Memphis’ gameplan is clear. They’re going to be physical and try to rattle the Jazz, who might need to look to bring Mitchell back sooner than they maybe hoped.

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