As much as Donovan Mitchell has pushed himself to stay focused, he admitted there was a Game 2 moment where he caught himself ball-watching.
It came in the first quarter, as Derrick Favors rose up against three Oklahoma City defenders for one of Mitchell’s missed layups, then leapt back up over those same three Thunder players for a powerful dunk. Mitchell couldn’t help but stand at the baseline for an extra beat — in awe.
“I took a second to get kind of get back on defense,” he said. “I was like, ‘Man, he’s having a game right now.’ He’s been like that all year, but he’s definitely turned it up.”
Favors’ monster performance in Game 2 was instrumental for the Jazz in evening up the first-round series. With 20 points and 16 rebounds (including eight on the offensive glass), he played the role of big man well. But then he had other facets — including a pair of 3-pointers and three assists — that stretched the definition of his position a little further.
In fact, what is Derrick Favors? He’s flipped between the power forward next to Rudy Gobert and the second-unit center. On Wednesday night, he had plenty of success in both roles. And if he can keep it up throughout the series, he might just be the match-up problem that keeps the Thunder coaching staff up at night.
Favors has always been a multi-threat big man when healthy. This playoff series might be the biggest stage where everyone’s been able to see it.
“We’ve never really thought of him as one ‘position’ or the other,” Coach Quin Snyder said, making quotation gestures with his fingers. “We’ve thought of him as a basketball player and try to have him understands his strengths and play to his strengths.”
The biggest way that came through Wednesday was on the glass, as OKC backups Jerami Grant, Alex Abrines and Raymond Felton found out the hard way. On one first-quarter possession, Favors got three offensive rebounds on his own.
JAZZ VS. THUNDER Game 1 • Thunder 116, Jazz 108
Game 2 • Jazz 102, Thunder 96
Game 3 • Thunder at Jazz, 8 p.m. Saturday, ESPN
Game 4 • Thunder at Jazz, 8:30 p.m. Monday, TNT
Game 5 • Jazz at Thunder, Wednesday, TBD
Game 6 (if necessary) • Thunder at Jazz, Friday, TBD
Game 7 (if necessary) • Jazz at Thunder, TBD April 29
This is the putback dunk that Donovan Mitchell said he took an extra second to watch. He was awestruck by Favors getting the board and the bucket. pic.twitter.com/cHy2IWhxnF
— Kyle Goon (@kylegoon) April 20, 2018