Roster and Per Game Stats:
This is what a low pace team comes up with - fewer possessions and fewer stats. Which is part of the reason why so many people discount the Jazz, they only look at the box scores and not the games. But you can clearly see that Rudy Gobert is the big man on overt campus. After all at the combine he was measured at 7’2 (no clue why the Jazz list him at 7’1 though...)! There is a mix up here as the Jazz media notes for Game 1 indicate that Rodney Hood and Derrick Favors are on the bench, and Joe Ingles and Boris Diaw are starting. They are veterans who have played in a lot of big games, so I guess we can’t fight that.
Gordon Hayward scores a lot, and he along with George Hill, Ingles, Hood, and Joe Johnson comprise the team’s deep attack. The fact that this deep attack (which occasionally also involves currently injured point guard Raul Neto) is PG / SG / SF / PF depending on what Quin Snyder wants to do makes this a very versatile attack that allows Rudy Gobert to have all the space in the world to set screens and roll to the rim.
If the Jazz have a big three it’s Hayward, Gobert, and George Hill, right? But I think more than anything Dennis Lindsey has made a Big 15 here. And he’s used everyone because of all the injures.
Los Angeles Clippers:
The Clippers have had a lot more stability this year and their top five and big three are much more obvious. Chris Paul, J.J. Redick, Luc Mbah a Moute, Blake Griffin, and DeAndre Jordan are going to eat up as much time as possible. Off the bench you have the injured Austin Rivers, Jamal Crawford, and Marreese Speights. It’s going to be a eight man rotation for the most part, unless something crazy happens. (Raymond Felton is going to take Rivers’ minutes until he comes back.)
DeAndre gets a double double, CP3 has really shot way too well this year, and Blake is a 20 point lock every game. That’s a reliable, overt, obvious big three. Their bench is trash though outside of Crawford and Rivers. Speights wouldn’t play over Jeff Withey if he was on the Jazz. Brandon Bass and Wesley Johnson are rarely used. Heck, Paul Pierce is mothballed.
But if you have a starting group like LA does, with Crawford off the bench, you don’t need a whole lot more.
At the top we see LA has better talent, and more stars. Overall we see Utah has a better team. You only play five guys at a time though. So the more talented team, especially with their experience advantage, should get the edge. And I think they do here.
This is using the starting line-ups that were submitted to the NBA for their Media notes, we all know that starters can change closer to game time. The values for the overall ratings are from the original, release roster for NBA 2K17 - so the biases they held before the season started and the values themselves are entirely subjective to them.
Four playmakers and a defensive beast. Diaw is finally starting to round into shape and making open threes, but really his court vision and passing ability have opened things up for this group. He’s not quite the defender that he could have been had he focused on that, but I think his experience is what the starting line-up needs. Hill has played in some big playoff games as well, but he’s the normal starter. Joe Ingles is the best three point shooter on the team, an under-rated defender, and generally a dangerous player to have on the court. He does it all. He does more than Rodney does if both are missing as well. This is a no-brainer at this time of the season.
Hayward and Gobert have been the constants though. And it’s likely that they will determine this series for the team.
Los Angeles Clippers:
I don’t really need to say much here. These guys are regarded as stars and are great. Redick gets all the space he needs to get good shots off. Blake is an inside / outside threat. DeAndre can’t make free throws for his life, but is very useful outside of crunch time. Luc Richard is very experienced and is a defensive stopper - starting against Hayward. Hayward struggles against him usually. This is a smart starting line-up, and the keystone of course is Chris Paul.
I think that they have the obvious advantage here.
These are the next five players on the depth chart, ignoring the injured players Austin Rivers and Raul Neto.
We’re going to see Derrick Favors at back-up Center spelling Rudy Gobert at times. Hopefully we see them together on the court as well. Outside of reliable Jeff Withey, everyone here can play two or more positions. That’s good flexibility for a young coach who may have to change his game-plans on the fly. Dante Exum is a perimeter defender, Rodney Hood can catch fire, Joe Johnson is one of the most clutch players in NBA history and has put up 20k points in his regular season career. He’s put up a few more thousand in the playoffs as well.
Outside of these guys there’s Shelvin Mack, the husk of Alec Burks, the disillusioned Trey Lyles, and Joel Bolomboy. If things are going well you are not going to see much of them at all.
Los Angeles Clippers:
These guys have been solid in their careers - mostly with other teams. Felton was a big deal with the Bobcats, Bass bounced around, Speights looked great with the Dubs, and Wes was a starter at times for LAL. Only Jamal Crawford has been really tested by the crucible of big games, and come out unscathed. He’s a prime-time scorer who can make his own shot, get to the line, hit threes, and make defenders look stupid.
Speights can hit some shots, use his upper body to get rebounds, but he’s not a game changer. Doc Rivers is not going to play these guys much, let alone their deep bench. If we see Paul Pierce, according to Clippers fans, that means things are not going well at all.
So for our sake I hope to see him play a lot in this series.
Jazz advantage here for sure.
The Clippers have been here before and they are all at the very peaks of their careers. As in: it’s all downhill from here. The Jazz are younger, and have less to worry about as the underdogs. LAC has the better strengths today, after a long series that could change severely.