The Jazz are now on a winning streak, winning 4 of the last 5 games by an astounding 112 points. And with the 29 point win over the Nuggets Tuesday night, the Jazz now hold three of the fifteen largest margins of victory in the NBA this season so far - the most in the league (all of them coming in the last five games). Oh, how the turntables turn...
The Jazz now have an opportunity to avenge the Clippers for their loss in Staples Arena earlier in the year, playing for a second time in that arena. This time, however, the Clippers and Jazz will both be pretty banged up, missing many of their best players - Rudy Gobert, Blake Griffin, Danilo Gallinari, Joe Johnson. Because of injuries to the Clips, especially their guard lineup, the Clippers went on an extended seven game losing streak that saw them drop all the way to before winning their last three games, albeit against the Hawks, Kings, and Lakers. They would have lost the last one to Brandon Ingram and co. if Lou Williams didn’t go off for an insane 42 point game, turning a fourth quarter 8 point deficit into a 5 point win.
Those are the things you have to fall back on when Wesley Johnson is the fourth best non-injured player on your team. Suffice it to say the Jazz should have the clearly better talent on the floor, but our team needs to capitalize upon it and not let their collective guards down.
When: Thursday, Nov. 30, 2017, 8:30 PM ET
Where: Staples Center • Los Angeles, CA
TV: AT&T SportsNet Rocky Mountain, Fox Sports Prime Ticket
Radio: 1280 and 97.5 The Zone, AM 570 LA Sports
Rudy Gobert - Knee - Targeting mid-December return (but practiced Tuesday)
Joe Johnson - Wrist - 1-2 weeks (again)
Dante Exum - Shoulder - Out indefinitely
Raul Neto - Sore Left Hamstring - Questionable
Rodney Hood - Ankle - Questionable (game time decision)
Milos Teodosic - Foot - Targeting mid-December return
Patrick Beverley - Knee - Microfracture surgery, out for season
Danilo Gallinari - Glute - “Getting close” but will be out for tonight’s game
Blake Griffin -
breaking his hand by punching MCL Sprain - out for up to two months
What To Watch For:
Battle of the ball handlers
Ricky Rubio has looked somewhat better over these last few games, seemingly mostly recovered from his Achilles soreness. However, he’s still only been playing about 23 minutes a night since returning from his injury, and with Raul Neto possibly out, the Jazz will turn to Donovan Mitchell and Joe Ingles (and maybe more of Alec Burks? pretty please?) to again take over more of the ball-handling duties.
On the Clippers’ side, Euro-god Teodosic and Perennial Pest Patrick Beverly are out, leaving Austin Rivers, Lou Williams, and rookie Jawun Evans to bring the ball up. With Danilo Gallinari and Blake Griffin out, the Clips really have no one else to create. Look for Spida, Ricky, Ingles, Thabo (and maybe more of Royce O’Neale?) to key in on whoever’s hottest of the Clippers’ backcourt.
It’s the trappiest of trap games. Too many of the Clippers’ good players are hurt, and Doc Rivers will “have to” rely heavily on offense from a certain Jazz Killer (read the next section). Remember the last time the Jazz played the Clippers B Team in a easy-to-win game? NSFF* reminder (warning: your fandom will be tested).
Maybe the Jazz got that monkey off their back with the series win in the playoffs last year, but, man, that one hurt for a while. So, constant vigilance!
Most Likely Jazz-Killer: Lou Williams
I’m tempted to be cheeky here and list someone like rookie Sindarius Thornwell or Montrezl Harrell or (heavens forbid) “the Coach’s son”, but let’s be honest, Lou Williams is one of the all-time Jazz killers. He’s currently averaging 18.6 points a game, tied with his career-high season average, and we already mentioned his 42 point explosion. Suffice it to say that the 31-year old must be contained by the Jazz to pull out this W.
*Not safe for fandom. Viewer discretion is advised.
[Correction: A previous version of this article had the phrase “opportunity to revenge” instead of “opportunity to avenge.” We apologize to all the grammarians and pray you don’t exact your avenge on us.]