On Tuesday, the #6 Utah Jazz (44-28) will try and upset the #3 Denver Nuggets (46-27) home in Game 5 of the Western Conference playoff-opening series. Utah owns a 3-1 mark in the best-of-seven series and would be the second lower seed to advance to the second round.
Tip-off for the battle is scheduled for 6:30 p.m. EST at ESPN’s Wide World of Sports Complex near Orlando, Fla. You can watch the game live on TNT. Utah is a narrow -3 favorite to win and take the series opener, according to oddsmakers.
What to Know – Utah Jazz
The Jazz had no luck with the Nuggets during the regular season and dropped the first game in the series opener (125-135) but have since won the last three to put themselves one win away from advancing to semifinals.
Utah dropped Game 1 in overtime before comfortably taking care of business in Game 2 (124-105) and 3 (124-87). The last game was close through its entirety with the Jazz escaping with a 2-point victory (129-127).
Donovan Mitchell has been electric since the restart and added to it on Sunday, scoring a game-high 51 points. Mitchell now joins Michael Jordan, Allen Iverson, and Wilt Chamberlain as the only players to score 50 points or more in a single postseason. He has averaged 39.5 points over the first four games of the series.
Utah shot a smooth 57.5 percent (42-of-73) from the floor, including 48.3 percent (14-of-29) from the 3-point line. The Jazz shot got to the charity stripe 26 times compared to the Nuggets 13.
What to Know – Denver Nuggets
Denver went 3-0 against Utah during the regular season, including a 134-132 win here in Orlando. However, since that win, the Nuggets are just 1-6. The Nuggets might get an upgrade defensively if guard Gary Harris can play. Harris is Denver’s best perimeter defender and helps in slowing down Mitchell.
Jamal Murray countered Mitchell’s point total with a 50-point showing of his own. His mark was the most points ever scored by a Nuggets player in the postseason. Murray also added 11 rebounds and dished seven assists. Nikola Jokic supplied 29 points, and Paul Millsap chipped in 16.
The Nuggets shot 49 percent (49-of-100) from the field and 38.6 percent (17-for-44) from the arc. Denver also made 92.3 percent (12-of-13) of their free throws. The Nuggets won the rebounding battle over the Jazz, 40-37.
The Pick is In
This series has been a great series if you enjoy individual record performances. Denver has been on a skid but has the horses to take down the hot Utah squad. If the Nuggets can limit Mitchell’s impact on offense, Jokic and Murray can lead Denver to victory.
It would be a fantastic feat if Mitchell stays this hot, we just do not see it happening. If Harris suits up, consider it a bonus, but we like Denver +3 here regardless.