The series between the L.A. Clippers and the Utah Jazz is all tied up at one win apiece, and it will shift to Salt Lake City for Games 3 and 4 on Friday and Sunday. Two teams fought hard for the home court advantage that the Jazz were able to steal back in the first game, but the home fans won’t be able to see their team in full strength, making the Clippers as a clear favorite to advance. Utah have beat the odds before, and winning the Game 3 would prove that the 1-0 lead was not a fluke.
Los Angeles Clippers at Utah Jazz Game 3
LINE: LA Clippers -1.5 (-104); moneyline -119
Total: 197 (-101o, -102u)
The Clippers even series but need to show more improvement
From the start of the Game 2, the Los Angeles Clippers made a concerted effort to start well and built an early lead. Blake Griffin came out ready to play and DeAndre Jordan enjoyed the extra space to throw a few dunks, as the Clippers attacked the rim early and often. After hitting their first five shots, the Clippers built an 11-point lead.
Once dubbed Lob City, the Clippers have gotten away from that in recent years, relying more on the outside shot. They were the 7th best three-point shooting team in the league, but the Jazz is playing the perimeter very well and the Clippers are missing the outside shooting of Redick and company to extend the lead and really put some separation between them and the resilient Utah Jazz.
Also, they have a habit of playing at much slower pace once they get the lead, so the second half tempo crawled, favoring the Jazz, who climbed back into contention. The bench didn’t play well either, so there are areas where the Clippers can improve.
The Clippers shot well, hitting 52.4 percent of their tries, but with Crawford and Redick combining for 0-of-7 on threes, the Clippers were just 6-of-20 from downtown. They also shot just 8 foul shots the entire game. Defensively, they did good job on any iso plays and kept the Jazz in one-and-done situations. It starts with Mbah a Moute, who was +15 while on the court, despite a meager offensive contribution. Griffin and Jordan had a field day, scoring 24 and 18 points respectively, and taking 32 shots between them. It forced Utah to expose their third-string center Withey, but that experiment didn’t last.
Place: Vivint Smart Home Arena, Salt Lake City, Utah
Date/Time: Friday April 21st, 2017. 10:00 PM ET
TV Coverage: ESPN2, NBATV
Jazz life without Gobert continues
The Utah Jazz struggled to match the LA Clippers energy and fell short in Game 2. In fact, the Jazz were lucky to get a 1-1 split in L.A. for the first two games considering that they lost Rudy Gobert on the very first play of the postseason. They were successful to adjust on the fly, but once the Clippers had time to prepare for the new look, the Jazz struggled inside the paint. The negatives from Tuesday night were mostly related to Utah being unable to protect the rim. Their wing players remained aggressive on the outside, chasing the Clippers off the shooting spot and into the arms of… Favors. The Jazz didn’t change the defensive scheme, but the center piece was missing.
Derrick Favors started at center in Tuesday’s Game 2 loss to the Clippers, finishing with 13 points, seven rebounds and one block in 33 minutes. He was unable to practice much due to his troublesome knee, so he’s clearly out of game shape, looking exhausted for most of the second half. While Game 2 was a domination inside by the Clippers, Utah hung tough. They didn’t lead once in the game, but wouldn’t let the Clippers build a sizeable lead either, staying within 10 points most of the way. They were able to take away the deep shot and to slow the tempo, creating an environment in which they usually thrive.
They need their other two stars to step up offensively, as they did get a lot from the short supporting cast. Hayward scored 20 points, albeit on 5-of-15 shooting and was team-worst -17 plus/minus for the game. He struggles against Luc Richard Mbah a Moute, so the Jazz should force some switches for him.
The problem is that Gobert is their best screener as well, and having Favors run up to the three point line and put his body to free up Hayward is a recipe for a need for an oxygen mask by the 2nd quarter for the Jazz big men. The Jazz tried to do it with Hill on a couple occasions, so don’t be surprised if they do it more in Game 3 and possibly beyond. Hill himself shot just 5-of-12 and had 12 points, as he’s exerting most of his energy trying to contain Paul, and he did a fair job in LA.
Los Angeles Clippers at Utah Jazz Game 3 Trends & Prediction
The Clippers don’t like playing in Utah, with the altitude, distant airport and devoted fans. Over the last years, LA Clippers are 7-18-1 ATS in the last 26 meetings in Utah. Considering that they failed to cover in either home game against the Jazz and the fact that they are 19-22 away from home, it’s not an ideal set up for the Clippers backers. The Clippers are playing at the Jazz tempo, and four of their last 5 games ended in an under, but the Clippers are actually beating the projected total points line on the road very often. They are 44-39 against the over/under overall, but 26-15 on the road.
The Utah Jazz covered in both LA games, bringing their season ATS record to 38-42-4. They are an even 19-19-3 at home this season. They play a bit more unders at home, going 19-22 for the season, and have played only one over in the last five games. It’s a different tune without their Defender of the Year candidate, of course.
The books have initially given a slight advantage to the home team, but after it was confirmed that Rudy Gobert will indeed miss at least this game, the handicap changed sides and it’s the Clippers who are a -114 moneyline favorite at the moment. This will likely continue to move in that direction, despite the public money on the Jazz. The value is certainly on the home team, judging by any model, but it’s very hard to adjust for Gobert’s absence as he is such a vital player for Utah. My number says Utah -2, so I’ll go with the raised value, but I’m more confident in the under points, as the books have clearly overvalued Gobert to the entire defensive scheme and the game tempo.
My Pick: Utah moneyline +108 / Pass
Total: Under 197 points -102
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