Despite a valiant effort from Ja Morant, who notched up 47 points, the Memphis Grizzlies were downed 141-129 in their second playoff series game as the Utah Jazz hit the right notes.
While Morant was the outstanding individual performance on the night in terms of scoring, it was Utah’s team ethic that played the biggest role in their win. No Jazz player scored more than Donovan Mitchell’s 25 points, but seven players contributed double-digit scores to lead the home team to victory.
Game 3: Saturday at 9:30pm/et on ESPN pic.twitter.com/e4XVxgOtdP
— NBA (@NBA) May 27, 2021
Mike Conley Jr.(20 points) became the first Jazz player to have 15 assists in a playoff game since Deron Williams in 2009 and he was fundamental to the win, as was the defensive play and rebounding of French center Rudy Gobert, who landed 13 rebounds alongside his 21 point contribution.
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First Half Dominance
As has often been the case in the playoffs this year, the team that started the game the best went on to land the win. The Jazz led by nine at the end of the first quarter and by the end of the second, had extended that to 20 points.
To be fair to the Grizzlies, they did mount a third-quarter fightback led by the excellent Morant, who has clearly been the series MVP so far. They clawed back 14 points of that deficit by the end of the third, but the Jazz pulled away once again in the fourth quarter to win by a comfortable 12 points.
The Jazz won’t be too daunted at heading to Memphis for the next two games in the series. They beat the Grizzlies three times, home and away in the space of six days from the 27th March to 1st April and by the looks of things, they looked back to their best in this game.
Other Top Seeds Go 2-0
In the Eastern Conference, the top seeds in the playoffs, the Philadelphia 76ers, extended their lead over the Washington Wizards to 2-0 with another commanding victory, this time by a 120-95 scoreline.
Simmons (22 PTS, 9 REB, 8 AST) and Embiid (22 PTS, 7 REB) handled business tonight 🙌 pic.twitter.com/ToRmF08Lri
— NBA TV (@NBATV) May 27, 2021
Bradley Beal contributed 33 points for the Wizards, but Russell Westbrook had another quiet night with just 10 points, although he did connect for 11 assists. Beal received precious little support from others in the Wizards team either.
Joel Embiid and Ben Simmonds, predictably, laid the foundation for the 76ers win, both scoring 22 points, Embiid combining that with 7 rebounds and 3 assists, while Simmons was even more impressive with 9 rebounds and 8 assists. Tobias Harris also made an important 19 point contribution.
That makes it five wins from five for the 76ers against the Wizards this season and they head to Washington knowing two more wins in those games could see them earn themselves a nice break before their next playoff game.
Knicks Defense Sparks Second Half Recovery
In the other playoff game, the New York Knicks produced a defense-inspired second half recovery to down the Atlanta Hawks 101-92 to level their series 1-1.
It was definitely a game of two halves as the Hawks opened up a 13-point lead at the half, with Trae Young once again the main man contributing 30 points in the game.
Whatever was said at half time to the ailing Knicks worked however as in the second half, they kept the Hawks to just 35 points, scoring 57 themselves in reply to land a vital victory before the series heads to Atlanta.
Julius Randle’s 12 rebounds and 15 points were key, with Derrick Rose blooming with 26 points to ensure the Knicks head into the third game level with their opponents.
Playoff Series Situation – After 2 Games
- Miami Heat (0) V (2) Milwaukee Bucks
- Denver Nuggets (1) V (1) Portland Trail Blazers
- Boston Celtics (0) V (2) Brooklyn Nets
- Los Angeles Lakers (1) V (1) Phoenix Suns
- Dallas Mavericks (2) V (0) Los Angeles Clippers
- Washington Wizards (0) V (2) Philadelphia 76ers
- Atlanta Hawks (1) V (1) New York Knicks
- Utah Jazz (1) v (1) Memphis Grizzlies
The third games in the series start tonight with the Bucks facing the Heat in Miami, followed by the intriguing match up between the Phoenix Suns and Los Angeles Lakers at the Staples Center. Finally, the Denver Nuggets and Portland Trail Blazers will lock horns once again, this time in Oregon.
You can enjoy betting on all these games right now with BetRivers PA and remember to tune in for extensive In Play betting when the games tip off.