NBA Regular Season Game #33:
Utah Jazz (9-23) @ Los Angeles Clippers (20-11)
Let's get win #10!
Tonight the Utah Jazz look to get win #10 of the season, on the second night of a back to back, against their second team from LA in a row. Last night the Utah Jazz had a thrilling 105-103 victory over the Los Angeles Lakers (Preview - Game Thread - Recap). Now we get to play the Clippers, a much stronger team. It is strange for me to write that but this is a huge paradigm shift, the Clippers are better than the Lakers, and look to be better than them for at least the next decade or so. For the majority of my life the Clippers were jokes. Even people who didn't even care about sports made jokes about the Clippers; back when it was okay to say "white guys drive like this . . . buuut black guys drive liiike this" as a major part of your stand up routine.
Those times are over, and the time of the traditional Western Conference powers seems to be as well (except for the San Antonio Spurs, because well, they'll always be good).
The Clippers have a new coach, in former Coach of the year Doc Rivers -- and are still powered by Chris Paul, Blake Griffin, DeAndre Jordan, Jamal Crawford and company. They added a lot of new pieces, particularly Jared Dudley, J.J. Redick, and Antawn Jamison. Jazz favorites like Matt Barnes are still there too. And well, they're winning. LAC is the 6th best team in the entire league right now, behind only the Portland Trail Blazers, Oklahoma City Thunder, Indiana Pacers, San Antonio Spurs, and Miami Heat. They have won 7 of their last 10 games, and are a commanding 12-2 at home this season. For the season they have the 5th best offense by points per game (4th best in offensive rating), and while their margin of victory is slightly above 5 points a game, their middle of the road defense in opponents PPG is, in reality, #8 in defensive rating.
They are good on offense, and good on defense. And great at home. The last time they lost at home people still had Turkey in their lower intestines.
It's bad news for the Jazz, as our team isn't one of the best teams in the league, and aren't road warriors. What they are, however, is healthy. And a healthy Jazz team is hard to count out. Our team, young as it is, doesn't know they are supposed to roll over early. Sure, we've lost some blowouts this season already -- but they don't usually happen when we have the health and depth advantage.
And that's the case tonight as the Clippers will be without J.J. Redick, Reggie Bullock, and Maalik Wayns. Mike Harris is out because he's with his family for the birth of their child (last night). (CONGRATS, by the way! Sorry Coach Ty isn't going to send the kid a birthday gift until the baby is more vetter.)
Ideally tonight would be a good matchup between Blake Griffin and DeAndre Jordan against Enes Kanter and Derrick Favors. This has been a far from ideal season though. Instead I expect to see a lot of dribble penetration by Chris Paul against our porous pick and roll defense, and plenty of open space for their shooters, who have been off their mark this season from outside. The CP3 matchup against Trey Burke will appear one sided at times, but I have no doubt that Burke will do the right things the majority of the time he's on the court. Like, it's not likely that he'll have another 7 turn over game tonight. Right? Right?
This season Chris Paul is averaging 19.9 ppg, 11.5 apg, 4.6 rpg, and 2.5 spg. Dude is even hitting threes more than once a game. Ba-laque (NSFW - Key & Peele) is having third 20/10/3 season of his four year NBA career. Blake is also going to the line 7 times a game, shooting 37.5 3pt% this year. These are very good seasons. Outside of their CP3/Blake combo I do expect to be devastated off the bench by Jamal Crawford. Back when that dude was on the Knicks I think he beat us single-handedly. For his career Jamal averages 18.2 ppg, 3.6 apg, 2.5 rpg, and 1.9 made threes a game, against the Jazz. For the most part those are all career highs for his performance against a specific team. (Only the Charlotte Bobcats have seen him actually score more points against them).
The Jazz are not who we thought they were. Playing the young guys makes the team more fun to watch and an overall better on-court product for the paying fans; however no one thought that this season we'd see Hayward shooting poorly from outside, Alec Burks lowering his turn overs, and Enes Kanter playing his worst basketball of his lifetime. We're still kinda winning. And we're interested in a win tonight. The Jazz are 98-65 against the Clip joint all-time, and 37-45 in their gym.
Jazz go for win #10 tonight, but I don't know if they can do it against such a strong team. Anything can happen right?