West Conference Semifinals: ((1) Utah Jazz vs (4) Los Angeles Clippers – Series preview
(1) Utah Jazz
One of the most promising things about the first round for the Jazz is that they saw Donovan Mitchell return in Game 2. After losing Game 1 and some discrepancies on whether or not Mitchell was ready for that game there wasn’t any questioning his health after Game 2. Call it the old gentleman’s sweep, the Jazz wrapped up the series 4-1 against the Memphis Grizzlies.
Utah arguably won this series by hitting the three-point shot consistently as they made 16.8 three-point field goals in five games against Memphis. When the Grizzlies only hit 10.4 three-point field goals in the five games that’s at most 48 points of a difference in scoring that favors Utah. We get it the Jazz take a lot of threes and make a lot of threes! But the Grizzlies lost each game by an average margin of 9.6 points. Memphis truly held their own and just couldn’t compensate for the Jazz’s offensive shooting from the deep ball.
Up next is the bigger challenge defensively against two All-Stars in Paul George and Kawhi Leonard. Is the Jazz the best defensive team? I think questions could be answered as their perimeter defense will have to prove that the big man in the middle, Rudy Gobert, isn’t overwhelmed at the basket (or ending up in foul trouble).
(4) Los Angeles Clippers
It seems that the Clippers are just truly the NBA’s roller coaster of emotions of a team. First, they lose the first two home games of the 2021 Playoffs to the Dallas Mavericks (and mostly due to Luka Dončić). The questioning on if this team is worth even considering to win this series, followed by Kawhi Leonard in a Miami Heat jersey photoshop, and well Wayoff P is back? But hold the phone, after each team didn’t win a home game until Game 7 that was the true deciding factor in that series.
So, the Mavericks have a guy but also so do the Clippers. Kawhi Leonard entered the chat in Game 6 and 7 facing elimination. Leonard averaged 36.5 points, 8 rebounds, 6 assists, and shooting the ball 70-percent from the field! Sheesh! Kawhi clearly said I am the best player in this series and I will show you why. The 45 points in Game 6 came down to The Klaw putting away the game with a 5-of-5 effort in the 4th quarter and two big three-point shots in the last 3 minutes.
Paul George is a little overshadowed by Leonard’s heroics in the last two games of the last series. However, can he finally earn the name Playoff P? 23.6 points, 9 rebounds, and 5.7 assists isn’t a bad way to backup Kawhi Leonard at all. George is clearly right behind his right-hand man. The Clippers next best effort against Dallas was Reggie Jackson averaging 15.4 points per game.
Top players to watch
Donovan Mitchell – First Round vs Memphis
- 28.5 PPG
- 3.0 RPG
- 5.8 APG
Kawhi Leonard – First Round vs Dallas
- 33.0 PPG
- 7.9 RPG
- 4.6 APG
Where should the money go?
I know you’re awaiting my prediction right? I gotta be honest as the most objective basketball analyzer in the world. I’m rolling with faith in Kawhi Leonard this series. Partially, the Clippers are the most battle-tested and coming into this series with greater confidence. Again, another young guard in the Western Conference is across the court in Donovan Mitchell and I’m sure Kawhi Leonard make take offense should Mitchell start to outplay him.
The Clippers will have the same issues as Memphis. Don’t try to outscore Utah, try to stop them from shooting the three-point ball. In their five games against the Grizzlies, the Jazz shot 207 three-point field goals. The Clippers attempted 252 in SEVEN GAMES. At this rate, the Jazz would pace to take 300 three-point field goals in a series if it played out to a Game 7.
I know the new thing is to show some love to the next generation of stars. They’ve arrived like a Donovan Michell. However, the Clippers proved with Dončić that they are still the better team with a better roster. Los Angeles will still need assistance from Reggie Jackson and Marcus Morris defensively as well. We know that the Jazz has the Sixth Man of the Year, Jordan Clarkson. To combat him will be Terance Mann, who had his best game of the series in Game 7 against Dallas. Mann scored 13 points on 50-percent shooting.
I will still commit my trust in the veterans like Leonard and George at this point. Clippers in 6 games.
Schedule and Results
10:00 PM ET
Clippers - 109
10:00 PM ET
Clippers -111 Jazz - 117
8:30 PM ET
Jazz - 106
10:00 PM ET