SALT LAKE CITY — Donovan Mitchell put it ever so eloquently: The Utah Jazz have got some stuff to handle moving forward (except he didn't say stuff).
Mitchell's return for Wednesday's Game 2 (8 p.m., TNT) should provide some balm to a Jazz team that was outplayed by the No. 8-seed Memphis Grizzlies, but his presence won't clear up everything the Jazz did wrong in Game 1.
Utah struggled with four key things on Sunday: turnovers, rebounding, fouls and 3-point shooting — which, not so coincidentally, lines up pretty close with what the NBA calls the four factors.
If just one of those four were better, the Jazz would have walked away with a win — albeit an uninspiring one. So the question then looking forward to Game 2 is how correctable are those things? Let's examine.
The Jazz coughed up the ball 16 times on Sunday — and some were just inexplicable. Utah passed up open looks to instead pass the ball to Memphis, and dribbled into traffic with more a hope than an actual plan.
Memphis was seventh best in the league at forcing turnovers in the regular season, so it shouldn't have been a surprise the Grizzlies figured out some way to force deflections — especially Kyle Anderson, who had six steals himself in the series-opener.
How can the Jazz counter? It sounds simple, but just make smarter decisions. Mitchell coming back probably helps the Jazz here more than anywhere. Jordan Clarkson and Bojan Bogdanovic both had four turnovers apiece — some of those possessions now will go to Mitchell.
But that isn't a fix all.
"We got stagnant," Jazz coach Quin Snyder said. "When the ball stops moving, they become an even better defensive team because of their length — you saw some of the plays that Kyle Anderson made — really, all their guys, their physicality, and that impacted us in our ability to take care of the ball."
A lot of it is just being smarter, too. When there's an open 3, shoot it. And when there's a sea of Grizzlies in the paint, don't try to drive through all of them — when just about every other option would be better.
Jonas Valanciunas averaged the second-most offensive rebounds in the NBA this season at 4.1. So getting six offensive boards — especially with Rudy Gobert in foul trouble — in Game 1 wasn't the biggest surprise.
But Dillon Brooks getting three and Memphis' guard line combining for five? That's something the Jazz can't afford to happen going forward.
"One of the keys for us has been all year, and it continues to be, and it's something that we really have to focus on is to defensive rebound," Snyder said. "Particularly when Rudy's tied up with Valanciunas. We've got to have other guys that are even more determined on the boards."
There was a lot of ball watching from Utah allowing the Grizzlies to sneak in and get position for boards. And that was the case, even when it was Valanciunas getting the rebound. If a Jazz big steps out to defend Ja Morant in the pick and roll, the other Jazz players must at least try to account for Valanciunas near the rim.
On one late Valanciunas offensive board, for example, Conley nearly stopped moving after being screened, and no Jazz player was close to putting a body on Valanciunas as he walked into the paint. That wasn't an isolated incident.
Gobert fouled out for the first time all season, and Mike Conley sat for long stretches of the second half due to him finishing with five fouls. Gobert was plus-9 in 25 minutes; Conley finished plus-11 in 33 minutes. So those two — especially Gobert — simply need to play more in Game 2.
"It was kind of hard for me to find ways to just get into the game when I don't really know if I should play physical, or if I should sell it well when he (Valanciunas) pushes me — but then they don't call it," Gobert said after the game. "It was hard for me to know the way to play the game. It kind of threw me off a little bit."
Gobert's frustration with some of the fouls may have led to his most-viewed action of Game 1: a flailing flop on the sideline.
After Derrick Favors was fouled by Anderson on a slam dunk late in the fourth, Gobert roamed the sideline where Anderson was and took a very light, two-handed push from the Memphis wing. Seemingly a little annoyed about how Valanciunas had flopped his way to a couple foul calls, Gobert flailed his arms and fell down to the court. It didn't fool the refs, but it caught the eye of social media where fans let the jokes fly.
Gobert, though, may have had a point. A couple of his fouls were suspect and Conley's blocking call at the end of the first half was pretty egregious, and ended up changing Utah's rotation (not to mention the game), in the second half. That said, Conley and Gobert finished as the league leaders in plus/minus this season — they have to find a way to stay on the court.
"I think we got a few moments when we were distracted, disconnected. I think we let some of the calls affect us — all the little things that we've got to put aside," Gobert said.
The Jazz were 12-of-47 from deep on Sunday, including 4-of-21 in the first half. Like it or not, the number of attempts aren't likely to change. Snyder has instructed his team time and time again to keep firing even when the shots aren't falling. He said it on Sunday and he'll say it on Wednesday.
While Conley had a couple end-of-shot-clock heaves, most of Utah's looks were good enough.
Jordan Clarkson was 0-of-8 after making at least one 3 in each game in the regular season, and Georges Niang, who shot 42% from 3 in the regular season, was 1-of-6 with all five misses coming on wide-open attempts. As bad as the Jazz played, they needed just one more deep shot to go in to force overtime.
The 16 playoff teams collectively shot 37.6% from 3 in the regular season. That number dropped to 33.1% in Game 1. It's normal for percentages to go down in the playoffs — the defense intensity ticks up just a bit — but that dip is far below normal (it usually hovers around 1-2%). The five Game 2's played on Monday and Tuesday showed things coming back up with those teams combining to shoot 40% from 3.
That's a good omen for the Jazz.
Utah vs. Memphis
(Memphis lead 1-0)
Game 1: Memphis 112, Utah 109
Game 2: Wednesday at Utah, 8 p.m.
Game 3: Saturday, May 29, at Memphis, 7:30 p.m.
Game 4: Monday, May 31, at Memphis, 7:30 p.m.
*Game 5: Wednesday, June 2, at Utah, TBA
*Game 6: Friday, June 4, at Memphis, TBA
*Game 7: Sunday, June 6, at Utah, TBA