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Utah Jazz at Los Angeles Clippers: Can Chris Paul hold off the next generation?

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Utah Jazz (1-2) @ Los Angeles Clippers (2-1)STAPLES Center, Los Angeles, CA8:30 p.m. (MT) • TV: ROOT Sports • Radio: 1280 AM / 97.5 FM

Russ Isabella-USA TODAY Sports

Tonight the Utah Jazz face off against the Los Angeles Clippers. The Clippers, we know, were a really bad franchise for a very long time. Despite getting high level draft picks like Danny Manning, and making the playoffs a few times, they were ultimately a joke of a franchise. Much of that leads back to their former owner who is thankfully gone now. Led by young stars like Blake Griffin, and in his peak Chris Paul, the Clippers exist for one purpose -- to play deep in the playoffs. Over the last three seasons they have never made it to the Western Conference finals, and had one first round exit. Many people have ideas why this is, but this year under new ownership and with a re-energized Doc Rivers, the hope is that LAC can finally break away from their franchise history of being an after thought.

The Utah Jazz are on the opposite side of the spectrum, with their first bottoming out season ever in their recent rear view mirror. Yes, the Jazz have lost a lot of games before, but that core was mostly intact -- they lost because of injuries to Carlos Boozer and Andrei Kirilenko (while already having Mehmet Okur and Matt Harpring on the team -- four of the starters for the next season). Last season was as bad as it could have been. This season looks to be one of struggles at times, but much more periods of competency.

Utah will be playing their fourth game in six nights, and Los Angeles their fourth in five nights. Both teams could argue about being tired, but really it's November 3rd. No team should claim that just yet. Los Angeles is more banged up, with Glen Davis having a groin injury, Chris Douglas-Roberts having a pineapple for hair, and Jamal Crawford with a rib injury. Crawford is a game time decision, boosted up from doubtful to questionable, and now questionable to a game time decision.

Personally I think that Crawford could be a huge difference maker for this team tonight if he plays, especially with J.J. Redick shooting blanks right now (but he's due for a big game). The most overt strength of both teams should be the inside play with Blake Griffin, DeAndre Jordan, and Spencer Hawes going up against Derrick Favors, Enes Kanter, Rudy Gobert, and Trevor Booker. But I really think this game will be won or lost at the point guard spot.

Chris Paul, former Rookie of the year, All-Star, All-NBA player, with a bunch of gold medals . . . that guy . . . he is the best player on the floor right now for both teams. He plays both sides of the ball and the refs too. And he is going to be trying to use his smarts against Trey Burke and Dante Exum. They had their battles in the pre-season, and it's hard to argue that Paul wasn't the victor there.

Tonight could be a different story, with Trey Burke playing with a lot of confidence, and Dante Exum hitting 50% of his outside shots while playing havoc in the passing lanes.

Blake Griffin will get his. Derrick Favors will be a handful. And if the Clippers aren't at full strength, their wings can't compete with Gordon Hayward and Alec Burks . . . but it means nothing if Chris Paul is having a Chris Paul type of game.

Hopefully tonight our different looks at point guard can at least make him work for it.

Starters:

PG: Trey Burke vs. Chris Paul

SG: Alec Burks vs. J.J. Redick

SF: Gordon Hayward vs. Matt Barnes

PF: Enes Kanter vs. Blake Griffin

C: Derrick Favors vs. DeAndre Jordan

Key Bench:

PG2: Dante Exum vs. Steve Blake

C2: Rudy Gobert vs. SPencer Hawes

Wing2: Rodney Hood vs. Hedo Turkoglu

PF2: Trevor Booker vs. the Ghost of Loy Vaught

Injuries:

  • Jamal Crawford (LAC) -- Game time decision

Personally it's going to be a tough game for both teams, and a contest for the Jazz more than the at home Clippers. If Utah can punch them in the mouth early it could be a fun game, but I really think that LA's talent and advantages should carry them. I'd love to be wrong about this though.

GO JAZZ GO!

Poll

Who is going to win tonight?

This poll is closed

  • 68%
    The Utah Jazz (1-2)
    (45 votes)
  • 31%
    The Los Angeles Clippers (2-1)
    (21 votes)
66 votes total Vote Now