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The Utah Jazz bring it back home against the Los Angeles Clippers

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Game 5, injuries abound...

NBA: Playoffs-Utah Jazz at Los Angeles Clippers Gary A. Vasquez-USA TODAY Sports

I’m going to keep this one (relatively) short. The Utah Jazz looked horrible in Los Angeles, being blown out both games. I think it’s obvious - the Jazz are fighting for their season in this game, if game 4 wasn’t already that game. However, there’s been a few wrinkles - injuries and health issues suck.

The Jazz almost certainly expected to have Conley back for game 4, and came out flat when he wasn’t able to play. He won’t be available again tonight - he appears to have had a setback in his recovery process. But, the Jazz have beat the Los Angeles Clippers at home with Kawhi twice, without Conley. With the Suns resting up but potentially without Chris Paul, and the Eastern conference all tied up, this presents an open opportunity. The window for a title has never been clearer, and that must come with winning this series. An analysis a few years ago stated that 82 percent of Game 5 winners with series tied (2-2) went on to win, and I would not be surprised if that is still approximately the case.


Game Info

When: 8:00PM MDT

Where: Vivint Arena, Salt Lake City

TV: TNT

Radio: KZNS/KTUB, KEIB-AM/KWKW-LAC


Projected Starting Lineups

UTAH: G: Donovan Mitchell G: Joe Ingles F: Bojan Bogdanovic F: Royce O’Neale C: Rudy Gobert

LAC (predicted): G: Reggie Jackson G: Paul George F: Marcus Morris Sr. F: Nic Batum C: Ivica Zubac OR G: Reggie Jackson G: Patrick Beverly G: Paul George F: Marcus Morris Sr. C: Nic Batum


What to watch for

Who will step up for the Clippers?

Marcus Morris (24 points, 6 rebounds, and 5 of 6 from 3) and Paul George (31 points, 9 rebounds, 4 assists, 4 of 10 from 3) both played very well in Game 4. With Kawhi out, it’s up to them to step up. Did their games at home give them confidence? With Marcus Morris in particular, he supposedly plays better with his brother in the audience, like in Game 4, and thankfully he won’t be in attendance tonight:

Reggie Jackson regressed heavily to the mean in Game 4, with only 4 points and 0 of 2 from 3, but that was small solace for when the Jazz were blow off the rails by the Clippers’ big 2. However, Terance Mann has also been huge the last two games, posting +21 and +15 plus-minuses off of the bench and providing a true spark defensively. Watch for his and Patrick Beverley’s defence on Donovan Mitchell and Jordan Clarkson, in particular.

Who Will Step up for the Jazz?

Ingles has been pretty consistently on fire from outside - for games two through four, he scored 19 points in each game on 63.6% from 3. His play in the third quarter alongside Rudy was huge in bringing the Jazz (somewhat) back in Game 4. I think it’s safe to say he’s putting it all out there on the floor. The also Jazz certainly could learn to feed Rudy more when he rolls to the basket. I especially wish they would get him involved early with a dunk or two, because Rudy seems to thrive defensively when he gets touches offensively (as odd as that might sound).

However, asking Rudy to dominate offensively when he can’t impose his will in getting the ball in the basket is asking for trouble. So who else can we turn to for an offensive lift? Well, Donovan Mitchell has continued to be amazing in spite of obviously not being 100%.

So he’s pretty much scoring as much as he can on that end. Jordan Clarkson had his first off-game of this series in Game 4, with 8 points on 12 shots, being very bothered by the Clippers’ aggressive defense, and he played tremendously well in Utah (42 points and 12 three pointers made on 15 of 33 shooting) so he may be a prime candidate for a return to form. Notable is that he has not taken a single free throw this Clippers series, as opposed to 21 (all made) over the 5-game Grizzlies series, so it would be good for him to look to drive and draw fouls more if possible.

But I would put the onus on Bogey, the Jazz’s current 3rd option, for the player who has the biggest potential to break out. He’s had a supplementary role this Clippers series, putting in making critical shots and defensive plays in Games 1 and 2, but largely disappeared in Los Angeles as their pressing defensive scheme have kept him from really contributing much for Game 3 and the first half of Game 4. However, it seems like he started to figure things out in the second half of Game 4, and with Kawhi out, his job gets much easier. When will he catch fire? Hopefully tonight.

Go Jazz!