The daily preview muscles into the paint with NBA Playoffs tips for the Semi-finals series opener between heavyweights Utah Jazz and LA Clippers.
12:00 (AEST), Wed 9th Jun @ Vivint Arena, Salt Lake City
History: Played 205: Jazz 119 V Clippers 86
Last meeting: February 19, 2021: Clippers 116 d Jazz 112 at Staples Center
Final Thoughts: Utah Jazz are the $2.20 favourites to take out the Western Conference title, with LA Clippers ($2.88) not far behind. We’re in for a fascinating Semi-final ride.
The Jazz have enjoyed a leisurely six-day rest after putting away Memphis Grizzlies in five games. After dropping Game 1, the top-seeded Jazz won four straight games by an average margin of 10.75 points.
Donovan Mitchell made a belated return from injury in Game 2 and scored 25-plus points in all four Utah victories. Rudy Gobert averaged 13 rebounds. Mike Conley made some important contributions against his former team early in the series but is questionable for the series opener against the Clippers. Sharpshooter Jordan Clarkson scored 24 points off the bench in both of the Jazz’s last two wins.
The No.4 seed Clippers are coming off a gruelling seven-game battle against Dallas Mavericks. Down 3-2 in the series, Kawhi Leonard scored 45 points to inspire a 104-97 Game 6 win in Dallas. He was just as influential in the 126-111 Game 7 triumph, putting up 28 points, 10 rebounds, 9 assists and 4 steals.
Meanwhile, Paul George went some way to living up to his ‘Playoff P’ moniker, averaging 23.6 points, 9 rebounds and 5.7 assists. But the Clippers did have plenty of trouble containing Mavs talisman Luka Doncic.
The Jazz have won nine of their last 12 against the Clippers. The teams’ encounters so far this season point to a fiercely fought series.
Utah grabbed a 106-100 home win on New Year’s Day with Conly (33 pts, 7 ast) starring. Gobert (23 pts, 20 reb) was the marquee man in the Jazz’s 114-96 victory over an undermanned Clippers in Los Angeles in February, but Leonard (29 pts) returned to lead the Clips to a 116-112 success at Staples two days later.
The Clippers are on just one day’s rest, but they can take confidence from their three road wins in the First Round – all by at least seven points. The Jazz, though, are 33-6 at home this season.
Expect a few twists and turns in this series, but the fresher Jazz shape as the smart pick in Game 1 as only a 3.5-point favourite.
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