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Los Angeles Clippers @ Utah Jazz: 5 Things to Watch For

The Jazz look to take down the Clippers for the second time this preseason.

NBA: Preseason-Utah Jazz at Los Angeles Clippers Kelvin Kuo-USA TODAY Sports

The Jazz, coming off a late-game collapse against Phoenix, welcome the Los Angeles Clippers to Vivint Smart Home Arena. So, there are only two more preseason games left. Is there anything that you have wanted to see, but haven’t? Any surprises? One thing is clear, we need to continue to work toward a healthy roster going into the season. The Jazz have benched a few players for cautionary reasons throughout the preseason, and we may not see our opening day starting lineup until...well... opening day.

Here are five things for you to watch for in today’s game.

ONE: Feed Rudy!

NBA: Preseason-Phoenix Suns at Utah Jazz Chris Nicoll-USA TODAY Sports

So far in the preseason, Rudy Gobert is averaging 14.25 PPG, including two explosions against Phoenix for 17 and 21 points. It looks like Gobert is doing a better job of finding his spots in this offense. His teammates are finding him often, and he has been working hard to get himself in a better position to score. An increase in scoring will be needed, especially after the Hayward injury.

A good amount of Gobert’s points have come at the free throw line, in which he is 29 of 38 during the preseason. If he can hit his free throws at a 76.32% rate throughout the season, Quin Snyder will have a very hard time taking him off the court at the end of games. Having a rim protector who can hit his free throws is an invaluable asset in the NBA, and the 27th pick in the 2013 NBA Draft is looking like more and more like a steal for the ages.

TWO: Fouls, Fouls, Fouls

In the past two games, the Jazz have had 72 personal fouls called on them, and one technical foul. I do feel that the refs have been a little whistle happy this preseason, but regardless, 72 fouls in two games is wayyy too many. Knowing how many close games we lost last season, everyone should understand that free throws matter, and they are going to be a huge factor if we continue to put the opposing team on the foul line at an alarmingly high rate.

THREE: Defense vs. Clippers Bigs

Blake Griffin, Deandre Jordan, Mo Speights and Brandon Bass make up one of the strongest front courts in the league, if not, the strongest. In the last matchup, Griffin scored 13 points in 20 minutes, we held Jordan to 3 points in 24 minutes, Speights lit up the defense with 14 points in 12 minutes and Bass added 4 points in 7 minutes.

Gobert and the gang did a great job on not allowing Deandre Jordan to get anything easy last game, but expect Jordan to come out tonight with a fire in his eyes. The matchup with Blake Griffin is what I’m really looking at. With Favors likely out, Lyles, Diaw and Joe Johnson will likely be tasked with defending the all-star power forward. Trey Lyles has already shown us what he can do on the offensive end of the floor, but defensively, a match up with Blake Griffin is a good opportunity to throw Lyles into the fire to see what he can do.

FOUR: An agressive Dante Exum, is the best Dante Exum

NBA: Preseason-Phoenix Suns at Utah Jazz Chris Nicoll-USA TODAY Sports

UMMMMM, So, Agressive Dante vs. Non-agressive Dante is night and day. Throughout Dante’s rookie season, and even a bit of the first few preseason games, it was normal to see Dante Exum hiding out behind the three-point line. This would be okay if his name was JJ Reddick or Kyle Korver, but it isn’t.

With 6’6 height, length like a tree, and a first step that looks like the Millennium Falcon warping into hyperspace (lots of Star Wars references on the blog recently), Exum either has a size or speed advantage on everyone who defends him. We’ve seen flashes of brilliance before, it’s now about seeing his aggressiveness show on a more consistent basis.

FIVE: Health

Current Injury report

  • Hayward (finger) is without timetable Oct 15.
  • Rodney Hood (hand) doesn't practice Saturday Oct 15.
  • Derrick Favors (L knee) still not practicing Oct 15.
  • Alec Burks (knee, ankle) without a timetable Oct 8.

Luckily, the Jazz are able to combat a few injuries with their new depth, but no team is built to survive their four highest scorers out with an injury. The Favors and Hood injuries seem to be precautionary, but we need to make sure we enter the season as healthy as possible. The Jazz can’t afford any more injuries.

Go Jazz!!! See you all on the gamethread!