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New look Utah Jazz take on the new look Los Angeles Clippers sans Kawhi Leonard

The Jazz continue a tough early schedule with a home game against the Clippers

Toronto Raptors v Utah Jazz Photo by Alex Goodlett/Getty Images

The Jazz are 3-1 on this season heading into a matchup with the presumptive Western Conference favorites, the Los Angeles Clippers (3-1). Behind great offensive performances from Bojan Bogdanovic and Donovan Mitchell, the Jazz are keeping with their defensive identity and punishing teams by grinding them down. While the shooting is inconsistent, flashes like the blowout win against the Kings (18 3PTM, 48.6%) and the ability to close close games like Monday’s win over the Suns were things that were not great last year (4 games with ≥17 3PM and ≥45.0%; NBA-last 4-18 record when trailing in clutch time [≤5 point differential, last 5 minutes]).

However, other folks on the team have had a hard time adjusting. Much has been made out of Mike Conley’s struggles, but it’s important to keep in mind just how used to Memphis’ sets Conley is after spending 12 years (!!) in that system, as evidenced by an anecdote in a recent ESPN article:

“Five! Five!”Conley called out the play during Utah’s second-to-last preseason game against the Kings. It was one of Conley’s favorites, but there was one problem.

His Jazz teammates responded with confused looks. Gobert thought he must have misheard the call, while Mitchell quickly pointed out the issue to his new backcourt partner.”Mike, we don’t have that,” Mitchell said.

Conley chuckled to himself, realizing he had mistakenly called a set from his old Grizzlies playbook.It was a reminder that there’d be bumps in the road for the 12-year veteran and perennial All-Star snub as he transitions to a new team.

The Clippers have had less of a struggle integrating their new pieces, though Paul George, acquired for nearly the entirety of the Clipper’s future assets, has been injured to begin the season. The limelight is on Kawhi Leonard, who’s averaging 27p/6.5r/7.5a/1.2b to start off his time in Los Angeles. Under his leadership, the Clips spoiled the beginning of the LBJ-Anthony Davis era and the Warriors home debut, with only a loss to the upstart Suns where the rest of the starting lineup only scored 29 points. With that said, Kawhi is out tonight with his “Load Management”, so Mo Harkless, the former Blazers starting SF/PF will likely replace him in the starting lineup.

Game Info

When: Wednesday, Oct. 30, 2019 • 10:00 PM ET

Where: Vivint Smart Home Arena • Salt Lake City, UT

TV: AT&T Sports Net Rocky Mountain, Fox Sports Prime Ticket

Radio: 97.5 FM | 1280 AM The Zone, AM 570 LA Sports

What to watch for

The Clippers Bench

With Kawhi out, this becomes a much less dangerous team, with few offensive options in the starting lineup. With that said, the Clippers are a tough team with depth. Perennial 6MOTY candidates Lou Williams (22.3p/3.5r/5.3a) and Montrezl Harrell (20.5p/6.8r/2.8a) basically play starter minutes off of the bench, and with Kawhi out, will be tasked with most of the offensive duties tonight. The Jazz will need to work extra hard on the defensive end to contain these two and prevent shooters like Landry Shamet, JaMychal Green, and Patrick Patterson from getting hot.

Los Angeles Clippers v Utah Jazz Photo by Gene Sweeney Jr./Getty Images

Look for the Jazz’s starting lineup to try to run out an early lead against the Clip’s starters. In particular, let’s hope Rudy can dominate Ivica Zubac and the much shorter Trez Harrell. Rudy’s had a bit of a turnover issue - 16 turnovers in 4 games versus only 3 blocks and 6 assists - while note shooting well (57.1%) so he can use this as an opportunity to get back into the groove both offensively and defensively.

Mandatory Highlights

Game Thread Ground Rules

Welcome to the SLC Dunk Game Thread.

Dunkers know how this thing works, but for you lurkers ready to make the jump to Dunker, we have a few guidelines. Remember to follow our community guidelines (no swearing, trolling, excessive use of Jerry Sloan’s name in vain, no personal attacks, no debates about Utah liquor laws, etc.). Remember to have fun. Anyone who dare blasphemes that Tim Duncan was a Power Forward (this means you, Pounding the Rock), Ben Simmons can hit threes, Gordon Hayward should not be booed, Exum Island isn’t a 5-Star resort, Donovan Mitchell is Monta Ellis 2.0, men should never cry, or John Stockton is not the best point guard of all-time will receive an automatic ban. Just kidding. But seriously.