Didja miss the Jazz Jam Session? (Clippers questions here - Jazz questions here)
Tonight the Utah Jazz go back out on the road, and face the Los Angeles Clippers. For the young Jazz it will be their 4th game in 6 nights, and for the Clippers their 4th game in 5 nights. LA played and beat the Oklahoma City Thunder and Los Angeles Lakers, had a night off, then lost to the Sacramento Kings on the third game in four nights. This is their second back to back set of the season, and like I said, their fourth game in four nights. To their benefit, though, LA has played 3 of these four games at home. And the other game, the lone road one, was against the cross town Lakers. So, uh, boo hoo? The Jazz got pounded at home by the Houston Rockets, then pounded on the road to the Dallas Mavericks before settling the score at home against the Suns.
After three games both teams have things to work on:
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Yes, right now the Jazz are displaying a better offense than the Clipps, but that's not where the problem lies. The problem is really on defense where the Jazz are giving it up more easily than < insert "probably insensitive comment here about prom night" here>, I like what we're seeing from the Jazz, sharing the ball, passing with a purpose, and a legit inside scoring threat in Derrick Favors. He is coming off the best scoring night of his career, but it's not like the Jazz will have the overt inside advantage tonight. Heck, DeAndre Jordan is one of the best interior defenders in the league, and Blake Griffin is AVERAGING 26.3 ppg. That's a Karl Malone like value. Sure, end of his career Karl Malone, but still.
When push comes to shove, and in this game it will, I don't think you have to worry about the Clippers scoring. Chris Paul is a maestro with the ball, and is boasting a really high 28 to 1 assist to turn over ratio right now (not a decimal error), and they have plenty of guys who can make threes. Where the Clippers will really shine is on defense. They are middle of the pack on both offense and defense, while the Jazz are at the extremes of these two aspects of the ball.
I'm not worried about J.J. Redick's ability to defend at this level, and you could argue that he's a better defender than a number of the guards on the Jazz right now. It's going to be up to Alec Burks to basically "take the top off of the defense." This is going to be especially important if Jamal Crawford is unable to play in this game (was questionable, but now upgraded to doubtful). If Jamal isn't there then Alec can fully focus on trying to be a havoc maker for the Clippers. He's going to have to go out there and collect fouls on their frontcourt.
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Them? I guess. The clear advantages for LA are numerous, experience, being at home, having star players, and having a better inside group and point guard. That said, the Jazz still hold the all-time lead over LAC, 98-68; including a very reasonable 37-47 record on the road. Of course, we're not playing the Ron Harper Clippers tonight, it's a group of guys focused on doing things in the playoffs this season.
No one on the Jazz have any listed injuries. Big Baby Davis could still be out, and Jamal Crawford could play. We'll see what happens.
Yeah. Sit this one out, Lamar Odom.
The Clippers are big inside and Griffin can face up and hit jumpers now. DeAndre Jordan is still a lob finisher threat. And, yeah, Spencer Hawes was created specifically to give Rudy Gobert trouble. As a team they cause the most turn overs (#1 in the NBA at 19.2 TOV%), and take care of the rock on their own (#7 with only 11.5 TOV%). They also get to the line a LOT, and are 29th in the league in not getting called for fouls on their end. So, expect our guys to get contact but no free throws on their drives.
They can be hurt on the boards, so we have that going for us. That's where Utah lives, being the #4 team in ORB%. If they have not scouted the Jazz they probably also don't know that Trevor Booker is the next Mehmet Okur too. So, we'll see how that plays out.
Chris Paul vs. Trey Burke. In the preseason Trey Burke held his own against the All-Star/All-NBA player. If he can do so in the regular season than our guys will have a chance to be more than just a bump in the road for LAC.
35+ FTA for LAC. And you know what that means.