Utah Jazz: 3 strengths against Grizzlies foretell further playoff success

Utah Jazz guard Mike Conley Jr. (Petre Thomas-USA TODAY Sports)
Utah Jazz guard Mike Conley Jr. (Petre Thomas-USA TODAY Sports) /
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Utah Jazz
Utah Jazz guard Donovan Mitchell (Chris Nicoll-USA TODAY Sports) /

A few keys to recent Utah Jazz wins should spell many more victories ahead.

The first-round series between the Utah Jazz and the Memphis Grizzlies was one of the most intense matchups to date in this year’s playoffs.

Memphis was able to begin the series with momentum after sending Stephen Curry and the Golden State Warriors home in the Play-In Tournament. And the Grizzlies used that momentum to steal Game 1 against the Jazz in Salt Lake City.

After that game, however, the Jazzmen were able to regain control of the series and close it out in five games, 4-1. Still, while the Grizzlies were young and had little playoff experience on their roster, they made it clear that they wouldn’t go down without a fight.

Now, here are three primary strengths the Jazz utilized to knock the Grizzlies out that ought to help them for the remainder of their playoff run…

Utah Jazz forcing opposing star power off the court

Dillon Brooks quickly became the Jazz’s No. 1 enemy in the series. He’s a physical defender and has slowly become an essential part of the Grizzlies offense during his four years in Memphis.

Despite his ascension this year, though, it became more clear against Utah that Brooks had one fatal flaw: foul trouble.

Brooks led the entire league this regular season in fouls committed. When he faced foul trouble, it threw off his game and didn’t allow him to be as physical on defense as he would’ve liked. In his team’s three-point Game 1 win, he committed only two fouls and led the game in scoring with 31 points.

Yet during Game 2 through Game 4, the Jazzmen were able to get him into foul trouble, even causing him to foul out of Game 3. Without Brooks on the floor, Memphis had to resort to giving increased minutes to smaller guards like Grayson Allen and De’Anthony Melton, who don’t possess the same defensive tenacity as Brooks.

When that happened, it made it even easier for the Jazz guards to do what they’ve done all year: get buckets.