SALT LAKE CITY — Well, that happened. The Los Angeles Clippers are one win away from eliminating the Utah Jazz after a 119-111 victory in Game 5 in Salt Lake City.
It's time to air some grievances.
"Donovan is giving it his all, playing on one leg. I cannot believe guys like Ingles and ONeal don't bust their buns on every play." — 1980relived
Rudy Gobert spoke about a lack of urgency — just an absolute insane thought considering it was Game 5 of a tied series. But that might be the only way to describe a lot of Utah's performance on Wednesday.
Take this play for example:
It's not the best pass by Gobert, but both Donovan Mitchell and Joe Ingles are initially in a better position to get the ball. Yet, Terrence Mann doesn't let them both get to it — he beats them easily and then goes and gets an uncontested layup. Mitchell has somewhat of an excuse due to playing on an obviously injured ankle. But what about Ingles? The play occurred in the first three minutes into what may have been the biggest game of his NBA life.
"Where did the top five defense go for the Jazz? You can't out shoot opponents in the playoffs." — macgriff10
In the regular season, the Jazz had a defensive rating of 91.3 in half court situations — far and away the best in the league. Against the Clippers on Wednesday, it was 121.7.
Derrick Favors was limited to just over six minutes, and even that may have been too many (the Jazz were minus-7 in those minutes). As soon as he checked in late in the first quarter, Paul George's eyes lit up as he immediately went right at the rim and scored two layups.
But Utah's issues were far from just a Favors' problem. In the second half, the Jazz struggled to guard the Clippers' pick-and-roll action when Gobert wasn't involved, as seen here:
Bojan Bogdanovic switches, and Royce O'Neale doesn't. Two defenders on the ball equals a wide-open shot for Marcus Morris Sr. — someone you never want to leave open.
O'Neale proved extremely ineffective against George all game long, who finished with 37 points on 12-of-22 shooting, including the following dagger with under two minutes remaining:
Yep, in one of the most pivotal moments of the game against an All-NBA wing, O'Neale extends his arm to George's face, allowing one of the best players in the league a chance to elevate and create contact. George hits the jumper to add salt to the wound.
"Our guys just aren't playing that hard. They look half asleep / daydreaming on most plays." — dmbecker
All the made 3-pointers in the first half masked it a bit, but the Jazz didn't make the smartest decisions on the offensive end, either.
Mitchell is ailing, no doubt, but that shouldn't be the reason for him to miss obvious reads. In the opening minute, Mitchell drove to the paint and drew a crowd of three Clippers. He stepped between two of them and had O'Neale a few feet away for a wide-open 3. He chose instead to fire a pass through traffic to the opposite corner, which, not surprisingly, ended in a turnover.
Want more suspect plays?
How about this decision from Mitchell in the third quarter as the Jazz were in the midst of losing control of the game:
Trying to draw a touch foul 30-feet out against a player who the officials have allowed to be as physical as he's wanted all series (much to the chagrin of Jazz fans) is not the smartest choice.
And here's Jordan Clarkson, who did have a fantastic first half, showing why he went 0 for 6 after halftime.
The Jazz were down 9 in the fourth quarter of what felt like a must-win playoff game, and Clarkson fired up an off-balanced fade-away 20-footer with 15 seconds on the shot clock? Utah has to be better than that.
"This should come as no surprise. They've been doing this since Malone. Same team different players." — Utah m
Recency bias is real, but depending on what happens on Friday, Game 6 feels like it could go down as one of the worst playoff losses in franchise history. But before we put it into the Hall of Sorrow, let's look at some of the other contenders:
2020: Game 7 against the Denver Nuggets
You don't have to go back too far to find another contender. Utah had complete control of the series, and complete control in Game 5, before everything fell apart. The Jazz lost Games 5 and 6 by double digits and then scored just 78 points in Game 7 as Mike Conley's potential game-winning 3-pointer rimmed out.
2008: Jazz lose Game 6 to LA Lakers at home
Utah had the best home record in the league but were eliminated on its home court in Game 6 of the Western Conference semifinals in what was Utah's best team with Deron Williams.
2001: Utah blows 2-0 lead against Dallas
The Jazz blew a 14-point fourth quarter lead in Game 5 at home to the young up-start Mavericks in what was the last 50-plus win Jazz team with Karl Malone and John Stockton.
1998: Jazz lose Game 6 in Finals
Michael Jordan's final shot. Nothing else needs to be said.
1997: Jazz lose Game 5 in Finals
Forever known as "The Flu Game." With a chance to go up 3-2 on the Chicago Bulls, the Jazz were on the other end of one of the most legendary performances in NBA history.
1996: Game 7 in Western Conference Finals
Karl Malone missed two free throws with 8 seconds remaining to seal Utah's fate in a 90-86 loss to the Seattle Sonics and come up a few points short of the Finals.
1995: Game 5 against the Houston Rockets
The Rockets went on a 10-0 run in the final five minutes, Jeff Hornacek missed a key free throw, and the Jazz's first 60-win team was eliminated in the first round by the eventual champion Rockets.
But if you're looking for some hope for the 2021 Jazz, think back to the first round series against the Clippers in 2017. In Quin Snyder and Gobert's first playoff series, Utah had a chance to close out LA at home but fell 98-93 in Game 6. That also looked like it would go into the record books as another Jazz blown playoff chance, but Utah pulled off a shocker. The Jazz went to LA and won the series in Game 7.