Separated by two wins to end the NBA regular season, the Utah Jazz and Denver Nuggets‘ best-of-7 series was projected to be tight. Game 1 did not disappoint as the opening game of the series (and playoffs) came down to the wire.
Utah came into this series the #6 seed, while Denver owned the #3 seed. The two teams traded victories in the regular season, but it would be the Denver Nuggets escaping overtime with a 135-125 victory over the Utah Jazz.
Donovan Mitchell and Jamal Murray put on a show for their respective teams. Mitchell was dominant, but it wouldn’t be enough to give his Jazz the 1-0 series lead. Mitchell would tally 57 points in the loss. Meanwhile, Murray cooked in the second half and into overtime. Murray would finish the day dropping 36 points en route to the victory.
Denver would lead at the end of the first quarter and the end of the first half. The second half saw the Jazz consistently put up baskets, enough to tie the Nuggets and push this game into extra time.
After a third-quarter that saw the Nuggets tally just 19 points, they battled back in the 4th. Scoring 37 in the final frame, the Nuggets did enough to ensure they wouldn’t lose in regulation. Nikola Jokic had a chance late in the fourth quarter to give his team the lead with seconds on the clock but was unable to deliver on the driving layup.
In overtime, Utah’s defense would unravel, giving the Nuggets the first win in this series. The extra-frame would see Denver add 20 points to their total, while the Jazz would go cold. Nikola Jokic was another key member for Denver as he put up 29 points in the game and lead all Nuggets players in minutes played with 42:10.
Both the Nuggets and Jazz are looking to put previous playoff disappointment behind them. The Jazz have not made it past the second round of the NBA playoffs since 2007. For Denver, they were bounced in the Western Conference Semis last season and have not made it to the third round since 2009.
Denver and Utah will have a day of rest before their next scheduled contest. They will meet again on August 19th. Down 1-0 in the series, will Mitchell and the Jazz climb out of an early deficit?