As the playoffs were announced, the Jazz and Clippers matchup was one everyone was somewhat debating.
The Clippers would seem to have an advantage with a 3-1 regular season record and home court advantage. However the Jazz did complete an upset in game 1 ending in a score of 97-95.
The Jazz got the upset in game 1 but the Clippers came back took Game 2, 99-91. The series now heads to Salt Lake City, Utah.
With a tied series going into Utah, the Jazz look to protect their house while the Clippers seek revenge on the road. Here are some key aspects for the rest of the series for both squads.
The Clippers have consistently been knocked out in the early rounds in the last few years. This could be LA’s last chance to excel past the West and make there mark. With Blake Griffin, J.J. Redick, and Chris Paul becoming free agents this summer, the clock continues to tick in Los Angeles. After a tough break for Utah, with Rudy Gobert, this series comes down to the basics for the Clippers. Just defend and rebound well. Tuesday night the Clippers out rebounded the Jazz 60-38, 15 coming from DeAndre Jordan. Also they held Utah’s star, Gordon Hayward, to 33% from the field and forced 13 turnovers. If the Clippers lock down Gordon Hayward and continue to dominate on the boards, there shouldn’t be a reason for them to lose anymore games this series.
For the Jazz, its quite a bit more complex considering the loss of Gobert. Utah needs a lot from their big men including Derrick Favors, Boris Diaw, and Jeff Withey. In a combined 33 minutes Diaw and Withey put up a total of three rebounds in game 2. Rebounding will be a key for the Jazz because they have to put up with the dynamic front court of the Clippers.
Also, reserves and the sixth man need to make up for the missing Gobert. Joe Johnson and George Hill both shot less than 42% from the field in game 2 compared to the stellar 64% from Johnson and 54% from Hill in the first match-up. Another key for the Jazz is to force turnovers and stop turning it over. The Clippers have the fourth least turnovers per game in their last three contests and the Jazz are sitting tied for the eighth most. A key reserve that must get going for Utah is Rodney Hood. Hood has been sub-par in the playoff for the Jazz shooting just under 36% from the field on 14 attempts.
A battle of two of the West’s best continues on Friday as Gordon Hayward and the Utah Jazz face DeAndre Jordan, Chris Paul, and the LA Clippers.