NBA Regular Season 2012-2013, Game 56:
Utah Jazz (31-24) at Los Angeles Clippers (39-18)
Don't get swept!
I'm not entirely convinced that this hasn't already happened before, but if it has, I'm absolutely sure I have blocked it out. What am I talking about? I'm talking about having our Jazz, the Mighty Utah Jazz, be swept in the regular season by the Los Angeles Clippers. Seriously. The Clippers. Even stand up comedians who don't even follow sports were capable of making Los Angeles Clippers jokes, and killing it with them. That's how bad the Clippers franchise is. And yet, right now they are on the precipice of winning their 40th game of the season. All that stands in their way are the Jazz. We're 10-18 on the road, while LAC is 21-6 at home. The Jazz are 98-64 against LAC all-time, and 37-44 on the road. As far as finding a franchise to play on the road, the Clipps are one of the few where we've nearly broken even.
Tonight it's not about breaking even, tonight it's about payback and avoiding getting swept up by the Clippers, who are the #3 team in the Western Conference right now. It's not going to be easy; but it's not like we're push overs either.
Game 1: December 3, 2012 -- LAC 105 beat Utah 104
Game 2: December 28, 2012 -- LAC 116 beat Utah 114
Game 3: December 30, 2012 -- Utah 96 lost to LAC 107
So in our three games the final score is 328 to 314, a grand total of +14 over three games. That's a +/- of -4.7 for us. So we've lost three games by an average of less than five points each time. Two games were one score differences. The W/L record favors the Clippers, but the actual performance disparity isn't as large as the 3 to oh margin appears.
Tonight the Clippers will look to sweep. They're a good team and they're missing just Trey Thompkins. (The Jazz will continue to play with former Los Angeles Clipper Mo Williams, and potential future Los Angeles Laker Raja Bell) It's really the last chance for Randy Foye to exact his revenge on the team that decided to go with Jamal Crawford instead of him. Against his old club Foye is averaging 19.0 ppg (56.3 fg%, 55.6 3pt%), 2.7 rpg, 1.3 apg, 1.0 spg in 31.4 mpg. It's kinda going to be 'all eyes on him' tonight as he's our main source of outside firepower. The Jazz will be riding high on the returns of Gordon Hayward and Gordon Hayward's on court ability. He makes our team better, and we're lucky to have him back. Both of them will get cracks being defending by Chauncey Billups and Jamal Crawford.
I think the Jazz can survive with Chris Paul and Blake Griffin doing their thing. Utah will have trouble if the auxiliary guys get going, like Matt Barnes, Caron Butler, and DeAndre Jordan. And of course, the main Jazz killer I'm worried about is Crawford. But I think the number of guys we can throw at him should be able to keep him in check (Hayward, DeMarre Carroll, and Alec Burks, for starters).
LAC causes a lot of deflections, gets steals, and gets to the free throw line. Their pace of play is average, but they are a Top 10 offense and defense in both PPG and RTG. They're a good team. But we do have something on them -- chemistry.
The Jazz didn't make any trades, the players know each other, and the relief of NOT being traded should help free our guys to really maximize their collective performances. Paul Millsap and Al Jefferson need to show the world that they are worthwhile as individuals, but more so, as teammates who work together. I'd love to see what they can do tonight.
This isn't a must-win for the Jazz -- but no need to start losing games when we're on three game win streak and 7-3 in the last 10.
Let's go Jazz!