Donovan Mitchell, Jazz Clinch 2022 NBA Playoff Spot with Win vs. Grizzlies

Timothy Rapp@@TRappaRTFeatured Columnist IVApril 6, 2022

Utah Jazz center Hassan Whiteside (21) reacts during in the first half of an NBA basketball game against the Memphis Grizzlies, Tuesday, April 5, 2022, in Salt Lake City. (AP Photo/Rick Bowmer)
AP Photo/Rick Bowmer

For the sixth straight season, the Utah Jazz are heading to the playoffs.

The Jazz locked up a playoff berth with a 121-115 win over the Memphis Grizzlies on Tuesday night.

In usual Utah fashion, it didn't come easy. The Jazz—who have lost 15 games this year in which they held a double-digit lead—led by as many as nine points in the fourth quarter, only to see the Grizzlies force overtime. (To be fair, the Jazz also trailed by as many as 11 points at one point.)

Bleacher Report @BleacherReport

We've got overtime in Utah 👀<br><br>Kyle Anderson right spot, right time <a href="https://t.co/LRSjWzdwvV">pic.twitter.com/LRSjWzdwvV</a>

It was a big win for a number of reasons in Utah.

For one, closing games has obviously been an issue, and while it reared its head again Tuesday, the Jazz managed to close it out in overtime.

For another, beating the Grizzlies helped the Jazz (47-32) leapfrog the Denver Nuggets (47-33) in the standings with a game in hand. The Jazz now sit at fifth in the conference and are on track to face the Dallas Mavericks in the first round.

The Jazz and Mavs have split their season series, 2-2.

And the Jazz need good vibes—this team has been limping to the finish line. Coming into Tuesday, Utah lost six of its past seven games. Since starting 28-10, the Jazz have gone just 19-22.

Those struggles have put the Jazz's title hopes in question, with the oft-scrutinized pairing of Donovan Mitchell and Rudy Gobert yet again coming under the microscope, to the point that both Mitchell and Quin Snyder discussed it Tuesday:

ClutchPoints @ClutchPointsApp

Donovan Mitchell averages 2 passes a game to Rudy Gobert. <br><br>Not assists. Passes 🤯 <a href="https://t.co/Hgq7gwrAe7">pic.twitter.com/Hgq7gwrAe7</a>

Andy Larsen @andyblarsen

Donovan Mitchell's full response at shootaround this morning when he was asked about the number of times he passes to Rudy Gobert per game: <a href="https://t.co/OTez0jURfz">pic.twitter.com/OTez0jURfz</a>

"Let's just not try to drive a wedge between some of these players, and especially using numbers. We should be more responsible than that," Snyder told reporters. "... We're not playing great all the time. We want to play better. But you don't get there by trying to say that one player's not passing to another."

All is not well in Utah, even if it doesn't run much deeper than the Jazz simply going through a rough patch.

But on Tuesday, they secured a playoff berth. A tough stretch will quickly be forgotten if the Jazz can make a deep run in the postseason.