Even without Bojan Bogdanovic and Mike Conley available, this Jazz team can shoot.
The Jazz continued their bubble shooting profligacy by making 20 threes on Wednesday night, easily breaking their playoff 3-point shooting record of 16 threes.
When was that record set? Oh, only Monday, when they went 16-47 from deep. Before that, the Jazz had made 15 threes just once: their only win against the Houston Rockets in 2018.
The trend shows just how eager to fire from three this Jazz team is: they’ve averaged 43 3-point shots per game in the bubble, nine more per game than they were during the regular season, when they already were in the league’s top ten in terms of threes taken. Now, over half of the Jazz’s shots overall are from deep.
The emphasis on the outside makes sense. To stop Rudy Gobert’s roll and Donovan Mitchell’s rim penetration, Denver’s defense packs the paint with help defenders from the outside. But after Mitchell’s spectacular 57-point contest, they also started to double team him high off of screens.
That meant that the Jazz found themselves in four-on-three situations constantly, which means that there’s an open shooter on the floor. One of the game’s best plays was when Mitchell was trapped in the high corner, but threw a jumping two-handed pass to Royce O’Neale fifty feet. O’Neale calmly hit the open look.
“We were unselfish and made the right plays,” Jazz head coach Quin Snyder said. “They were aggressive in the pick-and-roll and that shows with the assist totals.”
When the Jazz are passing, then making like this, their offense is unstoppable. From the three minute mark of the second quarter to the three minute mark of the third quarter, the Jazz shot 11-of-14 from three. Mitchell hit four of them, O’Neale hit three, Joe Ingles two and Georges Niang and Jordan Clarkson chipped in with one apiece. With those threes, the lead exploded from a five-point edge to a dominant 21-point cushion over the course of a quarter.
In fact, the Jazz set their playoff record with 16 minutes still left in the game. With things under control, the 3-point shots slowed down from that point on.
Still, the overall numbers were wildly impressive: the Jazz’s 140 points per 100 possessions Wednesday is their highest ever in a playoff game, and third highest even among the thousands of regular season games they played. That’s an obvious recipe for a win.
Can the Jazz do it again? They know the Nuggets will come out with adjustments in Game 3. But they absolutely plan on keeping the hot shooting going.
“I think if we can continue to do what we did today defensively, and also make shots, I think we have a chance to do something really special,” Mitchell said.