Coming back from a four-point deficit in the last 40 seconds? See the team’s beleaguered stars line up for the green light on a beautifully improvised alley? Watch the maligned perimeter defense executed to perfection in the final game, as the big man at the lightning rod headed to the perimeter to challenge the potential winner?
Yes, the last minute of Saturday’s Game 4 win was filled with electric moments for the Utah Jazz.
And yes, they rightfully celebrated the momentous occasion and series-saving victory, most notably with the pointed “F— the talk” line uttered by Rudy Gobert in a nationally televised interview.
Soon after, however, came the realization.
“We’re going to have to go out there and start over,” noted Donovan Mitchell.
Despite all the dogged defense from Bojan Bogdanovic, despite Mitchell’s early scoring spree and Jordan Clarkson’s late goal-scoring spree, despite the pandemonium causing headaches from the home crowd that caused Dwight Powell to miss two free throws, despite the assist perfect from Mitchell to Gobert, despite having forced Luka Doncic to release the ball with the game in play…
The Jazz won by a single point. They held on by the skin of their teeth.
And while it was undoubtedly nice to temporarily shut down all negative narratives surrounding the team, none of that will mean anything when the Jazz and the Mavs get going again on Monday night in Dallas.
“It’s 2-2, and you can’t get too high and you can’t get too low, because Game 5 is coming fast,” coach Quin Snyder said.
On Saturday, the Jazz finally did a lot of things that needed to be done.
And now they will have to do them again. And maybe better, given they’ll be playing within the hostile confines of the American Airlines Center, and considering Doncic – who was playing his first game in two weeks on Saturday following a sprained left calf – wasn’t even on the Mavericks injury report. from Sunday.
Still, the entire Utah staff thinks there are plenty of good things to build on.
They didn’t force anything offensively.
“For most of the game we read what the defense gave us,” Gobert said. “And we have so many weapons on this team that when we do that guys can make the extra pass and guys can finish plays. This is why we are a team.
“We have to take what the defense gives us. … We took our pictures tonight,” Snyder added. “What I mean by that is when you catch a pass, and it’s coming from a teammate, and your teammate tells you to put it down, it becomes ‘our shot’ – it doesn’t. is not a guy who has to take a shot, it’s a shot that our team takes…. We can shoot better, but it’s our shots.
The defense was finally where it wanted it to be.
“We defended to win tonight in the fourth quarter,” Snyder said after the game. “…All our little ones [were] truly more urgent and more alert. They still got a bunch of 3s, but they were challenged, and they were challenged by a bunch of different guys.
“We won the game with our defense, and that’s who we are and what we have to bring every night,” acknowledged Bogdanovic.
They played with energy and aggression from the start.
“We gave it our all from the start,” Gobert said. “…They made a few plays, Luka hit some big shots and we stuck with it. [Now we have to] do this every night, every minute – whoever it is on the pitch, play with intensity.
And they didn’t fall apart when the game got tough and the momentum changed.
“Mental toughness – keep fighting. It won’t always be pretty,” Mitchell said.
There is still a lot to improve. Gobert cited a few of those things after the game, including ill-timed turnovers and his stunning 9-for-18 performance from the free throw line.
But he also thought there were a few components of Game 4 that weren’t there before, which made the difference.
“There are a lot of things we can still do better, but when the effort is there and the mutual trust is there, it’s fun to play that way,” he said.
Mitchell, meanwhile, reiterated the motive that while Game 4 was fun and consequential, it doesn’t matter much if they can’t go out and do it all over again.
“We came out and executed. I can say we’ve been sitting here for months and this is what we want to be, and we went out there and did it. We did it for one game – now we have to do it again,” he said. “We did it, and that’s the most important thing. We went out and ran and did it. And we’re going to have to go out there and continually play with that effort and that intensity.
“…In the end, it’s 2-2. I’m not going to sit here and say we have it all figured out. It’s 2-2,” he added. “We did what we had to do. We have a crucial game, and it’s a new series, and we have to go back to Dallas and win. We did it once, we have to do it again. It’s the state of mind. »