The Clippers are clearly the better team playing in the Staples Center right now. The All-Star trio of Chris Paul, Blake Griffin, and DeAndre Jordan have made their team relevant contender for the last four years. So it’s safe to say the Jazz will have a much bigger challenge to face than they did with the Lakers.
In their opening game on Saturday the Clippers succeeded in doing something the Jazz failed at: win in Portland. Blake Griffin and Chris Paul combined for 54 points en route to a 114-106 win in Portland.
The interesting thing about Los Angeles’ win is that their three main scorers (Paul, Griffin, and Jamal Crawford) shot a combined 21-53 (39.6%) from the field including 5-17 (29.4%) from downtown. This led to the Clippers being outdone in terms of overall shooting. But they got offensive rebounds and forced turnovers which helped them power through these shortcomings.
Point Guard: Christ Paul vs George Hill
Shooting Guard: J.J. Redick vs Rodney Hood
Small Forward: Luc Richard Mbah a Moute vs Joe Johnson
Power Forward: Blake Griffin vs Derrick Favors
Center: DeAndre Jordan vs Rudy Gobert
Marquee Match-Up: Favors/Gobert vs Griffin/Jordan
It was really tough to narrow this one down. I could have continued the trend of George Hill vs the opposing PG but there was also the very intriguing match-ups in the middle. And being a lover of the guys in the paint I went with that instead. But I couldn’t decide between Favors vs Griffin or Gobert vs Jordan. So I went with both.
These are probably the best two frontcourts in the NBA right now and you can debate whose is better later. There may be better bigmen than each of these guys individually but no team has a better pair of bigs than the Jazz or Clippers.
This will hopefully be the full return of Derrick Favors. And after he terrorized the Lakers’ frontcourt to the tune of 15 points and 9 boards in just 20 minutes we’re all excited to see what he does without a minutes restriction. Los Angeles gave up 58 points in the paint to Portland so there’s a good chance we could see good games from Gobert and Favors inside.
X-Factor: Boris Diaw
This game could very well be won by the second unit of either team. Jamaal Crawford could very well be an X-Factor with his impact off the bench. But if the Jazz can get something out of Diaw then they’re bench will be able to keep them afloat. As of right now though, they’re getting nothing out of the Frenchman.
In 51 minutes of play Boris has made only 1-9 field goals (0-3 on three’s and 0 free throw attempts) and has six boards, two assists and a PER of -5.07. At this point, getting any sort of production from Diaw would be gravy. But a solid performance off the bench could turn the tide for the Jazz in a tough road game.
Prediction: Jazz lose
I’d like to be wrong, and it’s very possible that I will be. But this is a game on the road, against a tough opponent, without Gordon Hayward. It’ll take a lot to beat a contender like the Clippers considering the present circumstances.