The Utah Jazz are back at it again with the home game against the Los Angeles Clippers this evening. These two teams faced off a week ago in the Staples Center and the result was a favorable 96-94 win for the Jazz. Game not still fresh in your memory? Well then peep these highlights!
If you’ve been keeping track at home, several Jazz players will not be suiting up tonight. Gordon Hayward (finger) is out. Alec Burks (knee, ankle) is out. Derrick Favors (knee) is doubtful. Rodney Hood (hand) is doubtful.
The Clippers may be without a couple of their own players with Chris Paul (thumb) listed as questionable as well as Austin Rivers (groin). Paul is said to be playing in just one of the Clippers two remaining preseason games. If he sits out tonight’s game the likelihood of one of Utah’s players sustaining a groin injury decreases dramatically.
(Warning: NSFW Kevin Hart at the end of the clip)
The Clippers are coming off a 109-108 win vs. the Portland Trailblazers courtesy of a Blake Griffin game-winner Thursday. With the exception of 120-75 shellacking at the hands of the Golden State Warriors, all of the Clippers’ preseason games have been decided by 6 or fewer points. I would say that the closeness of tonight’s game depends on how much LAC’s starters play but we all remember what can happen against the Clippers, even without their starters.
Projected Starting Lineups:
George Hill vs. Chris Paul
Dante Exum vs. J.J. Redick
Joe Johnson vs. Luc Richard Mbah a Moute
Boris Diaw vs. Blake Griffin
Rudy Gobert vs. DeAndre Jordan
These lineups provide some very strange match-ups. About the only thing Boris Diaw and Blake Griffin have in common is that they are both much taller than the average man. George Hill works well without the ball while Chris Paul will do anything to keep a ball in his hand. J.J. Redick was a senior in high school when Dante Exum was starting first grade. Joe Johnson has been to infinity times as many All-Star Games as Luc Richard Mbah a Moute. On paper these match-ups aren’t particularly favorable for the Jazz, but that’s why the game will be played on a luscious maple hardwood instead.
100% maple from the Upper Peninsula of Michigan pic.twitter.com/Fjg6KXjKpJ— Utah Jazz (@utahjazz) September 2, 2016
Marquee Match-up: Rudy Gobert vs. DeAndre Jordan
These two are incredibly similar players. Both are remarkably athletic, defensive-minded, and quite tall. In most of their recent face-offs they have been relatively even-matched. Gobert’s recent FT% improvements give him a major edge in that category. Jordan is a “star” and a perennial contender for DPOY. Rudy usually steps up for match-ups like this and this is an opportunity for him to show that he belongs in the DPOY conversation.
These teams played each other just a week ago so they’ll know what to expect tonight. Being able to adapt to the unique lineup situation is a major key for the Jazz tonight. If Boris Diaw can’t keep up with Blake Griffin, can Joel Bolomboy? If Jamal Crawford is eating Dante’s lunch should George Hill switch onto him or maybe sub in Joe Johnson? The Jazz will need role players to step into unfamiliar territory tonight to help neutralize the Clippers’ stars.
Now before you grab your pitchforks let’s remember that we’re talking about preseason. Not a (regular season) game, but preseason. As we’ve seen so far this preseason, chaos reigns supreme and no lead is safe. Quin Snyder will continue to experiment with lineups. Doc Rivers will play his starters deep into the second half. Joel Bolomboy might dunk from the 3-point line. Jeff Withey might find his way onto the court. Okay okay, now I’m just talking crazy.
What’s YOUR crazy prediction for the game?