What was supposed to be a Western Conference showdown on national television took an unfortunate turn before the game even started with Kawhi Leonard sitting out for load management.
The Jazz offense was running right out of the gate, putting up 33 points in the first. Then a foul-filled 2nd quarter let the Clippers get right back in it. Per usual, the Jazz defense looked absolutely dominate at times. But also somewhat per usual so far this year, the offense had stretches where nothing could go right.
And then the 3rd quarter happened. MIKE CONLEY JR!!!! That was so incredibly fun to watch am I right? The Jazz were able to blow the game open in the 3rd quarter thanks to one Mike Conley. The Clippers made it a little interesting late in the 4th, but the Jazz were able to refocus and put them away.
Rational Reaction: Mike Conley is back
We all know Mike Conley hasn’t quite lived up to expectations so far this season. The adjustment to his new team has been significantly harder than we thought. And even when he did get the shots he wanted, they just weren’t dropping. Well that ended tonight. He went absolutely nuts in the 3rd quarter, putting up 18 points.
In total, he finished with 29 points and it was amazing. I loved seeing him finally play loose and just have fun out there. You could see it on his face and once that feeling came back he was a monster after seemingly being Monstar’d.
Overreaction: The Jazz might have a top 5 offense this year
When that blender gets churning, it’s nearly impossible to stop. I’ve never counted, but there are some possessions where the Jazz pass the ball a ton! Pass and cut, pass and cut, swing to the corner, drive, make the 17th extra pass, open 3. It’s beautiful when that ball is zipping and guys are moving. I just love seeing the defense scrambling and doing their best to rotate knowing full well that someone already is or soon will be wide open.
Now the Jazz certainly don’t have a top 5 offense yet. There are still some kinks to work out and consistency to find. And at the end of the season they probably don’t find themselves in the top 5 overall for the year. But what I could see is that the Jazz will be playing at a top 5 level when the playoffs hit. Add that to the defense and this team might be the closest to contention than they have been in many years.
Under-Reaction: Teams aren’t good when their top 2 players are out
The Clippers were undermanned in this one. Paul George hasn’t made his debut yet and Kawhi Leonard isn’t playing back to backs. Add that up and this results is exactly what we should have seen. No team is going to be that great if you take the best player off of it, let alone two of them. Just ask the Warriors.
But this Clippers team still battled and is going to be a problem once PG and Kawhi are out in force. I’m not sure they’ll finish first in the West, but they should ultimately be the favorites to come out of the it.