NBA Playoffs. First Round. Game 6. It’s the Los Angeles Clippers, in an all-too-familiar place, behind in a series. Even in this case where the Clippers were the overwhelming favorites according to all the experts, and they had thrashed their opponents 3-1 in the regular season, we see them with their backs to the wall - on the road - looking to win against the Utah Jazz.
Sure, Austin Rivers missed the first four games and Blake Griffin miss the last two. But they had a shot early with Rudy Gobert out for the first three games, and flubbed it. Quin Snyder is out coaching Doc Rivers, even if he had to use Shelvin Mack because Raul Neto was out.
So both teams have had injuries. And both teams have had stars rise. Chris Paul has looked about as good as possible why yelling at the refs, kicking his legs out in tantrums, and freezing his teammates out. Joe Johnson has won games for his team.
We need to see the Jazz win one more, and eliminate these pretenders.
Okay, the Clippers starters haven’t had a lot of luck, especially with Blake Griffin out. But the other guys haven’t stepped up. The Jazz didn’t have luck this season with injuries either - and especially not in the beginning of this round. Since then they have gotten more health and as a result, stronger overall. Gordon Hayward is balling right now. Joe Ingles is a two-way threat. Boris Diaw is effective in being a ground traffic controller. And then there’s this Rudy Gobert dude.
The Jazz and Clippers have both scored 495 points in this series so far. The Jazz bench have scored 220 points, and the Clippers bench have scored only 133. That’s almost a hundred more points. UTA is getting .444 of their points from their bench, and LAC only .268.
That also puts pressure on their starters even more. N.B. This puts Derrick Favors and Marreese Speights as bench players, even if they’ve been forced to start at times.
Marquee Match-Up: Gobert against Jordan
Rudy Gobert. DeAndre Jordan. Both finish lobs. Both set screens. Both play defense. Both take care of the glass. Jordan had a whale of a game in LA (Game 2), but since then hasn’t really stepped up. And he didn’t dominate when Gobert was up. Gobert, since returning, has made a huge impact for his team.
In the wins we’ve seen Gobert outplay Jordan. And I think the wings favor Utah, and point guards favor LA. This is the close one. And if Gobert beats Jordan again, this series could be over.
Utah went into LA and won twice in three tries. LA went into Utah and won once in two tries. Home court, something these two teams fought hard for, hasn’t equated to success so far. If the Jazz are able to get the crowd going, and the fans give the team a lift, it could be something the Clippers can’t overcome.
Oh yeah, and seeing how this game is AT HOME for the Jazz, how about some calls that help the Jazz out? C’mon refs. This is Utah. Act accordingly!
Prediction: Jazz win
Jazz win tonight, win the series, and advance. Clippers finish another season with a lot of unanswered questions.