The last game to be confirmed in the 2021 playoff picture. After knocking off MVP finalist Steph Curry, the Grizzlies punched their ticket into the playoffs setting up a matchup against the Jazz. Both teams are young with ascending guards, but they have different aspirations this year. Both teams will be giving it their all, and one of the highlights of this series will be the amount of dunks delivered by both Ja Morant and Donovan Mitchell.
The biggest question surrounding the Utah Jazz is the health of their star Donovan Mitchell. He has not played in the past 16 games due to a right ankle injury. Mitchell has been leading the team with 26 ppg and is the leader of this team. He has made multiple clutch shots and is the man who the Jazz turn to in the clutch. The Jazz have other creators such as Mike Conley, Joe Ingles, and Jordan Clarkson. The Jazz will look to their secondary creators to help carry the production, while Mitchell gets back into the groove of playing basketball. The most important thing for the Jazz is that Mitchell is 100% and ready to go for the playoffs. The Jazz might not need him against a Memphis team that could take 1 or 2 games, but don’t have the firepower to win the series. Utah will need Mitchell for the deep playoff run they hope to make, and the teams that Utah will face. The Jazz will have moments when they go on scoring slumps and need their star to take control of the game, and Mitchell will need to be 100% to take over in moments like that.
The Memphis Grizzlies on the other hand have a tough task ahead of them. After winning two games in the tournament to make it in the playoffs, they will have to play the best team in the West. A team with 14 more wins on the season, and two established stars and a whole lot of depth. This series is going to be tough. Yet not impossible. The Grizzlies have a solid group of young talent, and a really good defense that can gameplan around a team’s weakness. They figured out that Steph couldn’t do everything and that worked out for them. One of the biggest pieces to stopping the Jazz will be Dillion Brooks. He will most likely get the assignment of guarding Mitchell, and if he can limit him to 20 points then the Grizzlies have a shot to win. The tough thing is that Brooks won’t have that much help. They can’t double him every play like they did to Steph because there are so many other weapons on the floor for the Jazz. Even if they limit the Jazz offense, they will need to find a way to score against the 5th ranked defense in the league. That taks falls to Ja Morant, who must score a lot more than his season average of 20ppg. That’s a lot of things the Grizzlies have to get right, but if they can manage to put it all together they might have a shot.
While I do have faith in the young core of Memphis, this series seems too hard of a task for a team with the inexperience of the Grizzlies. Utah will almost certainly have their way on both sides of the floor for the majority of the series and will look to dominate. I predict the Jazz will win 4-1.
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