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Utah Jazz vs Los Angeles Clippers: Playoffs Game 3 Preview

Finally, playoff basketball is back in Salt Lake City!

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

Guess what, Utah Jazz fans? It’s playoffs time, baby! The Los Angeles Clippers are about to get sunk by the Utah Jazz and the fans at the Aunt Viv tonight. If you’re like me, going to the game and not independently wealthy, you forked over $50 or so and are headed to the friendly confines of the upper-bowl. Apparently there are a fair number of us. Check this out:

That’s a great sign, and I imagine lower bowl tickets will be similarly difficult to come by come tipoff.

The x-factor, in my opinion, is Gordon Hayward. He’s had real trouble with Mbah a Moute, and has had trouble finding offensive rhythm. Gobert is not coming back tonight. In this game, as Gordon goes, so go the Jazz.

That said, in order to win, Rodney Hood and George Hill also need to step up. Oh, and it would be nice if the bigs played a bit of defense.

How small is the Jazz’s margin of error? Well, look at the linescore from Game 2:

The Jazz got punched in the mouth in the first quarter and, while hanging tough for the rest of the game – tying or winning the other three quarters – never truly recovered.

Marquee Matchup: Jazz Bigs vs. Clippers Bigs

NBA: Utah Jazz at Golden State Warriors Kelley L Cox-USA TODAY Sports

The Clips scored 60 – SIXTY – points in the paint in Game 2. The Clips Nation twitter account was complaining about how the Jazz shot more free throws than they did, but it’s hard to draw fouls when nobody touches you, even if you’re Blake Griffin and Chris Paul. With Jeff Withey being a bit of a cipher so far, (and possibly distracted by the domestic violence allegations) Derrick Favors being hurt and Boris Diaw being old, I want to see a few minutes of Joel Bolomboy. More if he plays well. Look, the man has a nose for the ball, and he seems pretty humble so far. He’s not afraid to be put on a poster at the expense of playing defense. So #FREEBOLOMBOY! He’s not going to solve all of the problems in the paint, but I think he could help.

Injury Report:

We all know that Gobert isn’t coming back tonight, so we’ll move past that. Derrick Favors is sort of broken, but will play. As for Alec Burks, here’s an update on that:

I’ll never forgive Paul Pierce for what he did to Alec.

Final Notes and Prediction:

It’s going to be absolute bedlam at the Aunt Viv tonight. If you have some disposable income lying around, come to the game! If not, yell at the TV and send good vibes to the Jazz. I’ve got a good feeling about this one, but it’s not going to be a blowout.

Prediction: Jazz 103 Clippers 97.