The final sequence in Game 7 between the Denver Nuggets and Utah Jazz was insane.
We could talk about how Donovan Mitchell, Rudy Gobert and the Utah Jazz came to life in the second half of Game 7 in their first-round playoff series against the Denver Nuggets. We could talk about how low-scoring the game was, how chaotic the final minute was or who did what on Tuesday night..
But with our heads still spinning, we need to talk about that final sequence first.
With the Nuggets leading by two points after Nikola Jokic’s turnaround hook shot, the Jazz had the ball on the sidelines with 17.4 seconds remaining. What happened next can only be described as pure pandemonium:
What stood out from the ending to Game 7 between the Nuggets and Jazz?
Let’s take it from the top.
The Jazz did a great job getting the ball into the hands of Mitchell, their star. They wanted him taking the last shot, and after Gary Harris did such a good job denying him the ball on the prior possession, the Nuggets were at an immediate disadvantage this time.
Harris did an excellent job cutting Mitchell’s dribble off, forcing him to spin, but that spin move left Harris behind. Fortunately, the Nuggets’ designated defender recovered beautifully, poking the ball out from Mitchell’s grasp and right into the waiting arms of Jamal Murray.
Murray ignited the fast break off the dribble, and Denver had a 4-on-1 opportunity. The fact that they TOOK that opportunity, however, was extremely questionable. By the time Murray crossed half-court, there were only about eight seconds left. Instead of pulling the ball out, draining precious seconds off the clock and forcing Utah to foul, Murray dumped a bounce pass off to Torrey Craig on his right, past the last defender — the 6-foot-1 Mike Conley — to go for the killing blow.
Except Craig missed the easy layup.
Rudy Gobert, who was streaking down the court trying to catch up to the play, snagged the rebound from under the rim with about five seconds left. But with no outlet pass available in the first direction he looked, he was forced to take a dribble that eked precious time off the clock.
Gobert dished it out to Mike Conley just before half-court, who caught the ball with about 2.5 seconds left. While it appeared Donovan Mitchell was wide open on the other side of the court by the time Conley launched his desperation 3-pointer, Mason Plumlee — who had stayed behind on the Nuggets’ fast break — was roaming like a free safety.
Even if Conley had seen Mitchell on the other side, zipping a pass there with enough time for Mitchell to get a clean look off would’ve been unlikely.
So Conley took the leaning 3-pointer instead, which just lipped out, ending the series, sending Denver to face the LA Clippers in the second round and dismissing the Jazz from the postseason after blowing a 3-1 lead.
Game 7 was an ugly and low-scoring affair for both these teams, especially after Mitchell and Murray had lit up the box scores for the first six games, but that insane finish was fitting for any Game 7.