They say that you aren’t in trouble until you lose at home. If the Los Angeles Clippers lose at home on Saturday night, then “trouble” is an understatement. The Clippers head back to the Staples Center down 2-0 in the best-of-seven series against the Utah Jazz.
Los Angeles was down 2-0 going to Dallas in the last series, but went back home tied at 2-2. It took until Game 7 for the home team to win in that series and that win sent the Clippers into this series with the Jazz. Now they’ll have no choice but to defend home court, otherwise they will find themselves on the brink of elimination.
The Clippers are a home favorite of 4.5 with a total of 223.5 at Bookmaker Sportsbook in hopes of getting back into the series.
The Jazz have gotten two huge games from Donovan Mitchell in this series to claim a 2-0 lead. Mitchell is 31-of-59 in the series and 12-of-27 from three with 82 points to this point. He had 45 in the Game 1 victory and 37 in Game 2. Utah was ahead by more in Game 1, but the final margin wound up being three. It was six points in Game 2, as rode a fast start to the win.
It was a different setup than what we saw in Game 1. The Clippers led 60-47 at the intermission, but Utah had a huge third quarter to even the score and then finished out the game with a 112-109 win. In Game 2, it was Utah that started fast and the Clippers that got back into the game in the third quarter. The Jazz led by 13 at the break this time around.
We’ll see what happens in Game 3. One thing that needs to happen is that the Jazz need to take better care of the basketball. Utah’s 14 turnovers were a big reason why Game 2 wound up as close as it was. Otherwise, Utah shot 55.3% from the floor and made more than 50% of the three-point attempts going 20-of-39. The Jazz didn’t pay as much attention to the details, though. It’s not that they stole the game, but they certainly weren’t at their best.
Utah had those 14 turnovers and only 15 assists, despite making 20 three-pointers. The Jazz had 18 assists against seven turnovers in Game 1. They also shot 81% from the free throw line. They were just 62% in Game 2 and also got to the line less often. It is hard to poke holes in the 2-0 series lead, but the Jazz do need to play better in Game 3.
Jordan Clarkson had 24 off the bench, as he made six threes for the second consecutive game. He wasn’t the only one to have success, though, as three other players were in double figures. The Clippers have had lots of problems defending in this series and had problems defending early in the series against Dallas as well.
Los Angeles Clippers
The Reggie Jackson Redemption Game gave the Clippers a chance in Game 2. After fouling out in Game 1 and being limited to just 17 minutes of game play, Jackson had 29 points in Game 2. He was 11-of-19 shooting. While Jackson’s big game was a sight for sore eyes, it cannot be a good sign for the Clippers that Jackson had more field goal attempts than Kawhi Leonard and Paul George.
The Jazz did a good job forcing the ball out of the hands of Los Angeles’s go-to scorers. Kawhi had 21 points on 8-of-17 shooting and PG had 27 points. The Clippers shot 47% from the floor and 37% from three. After doing a pretty good job defensively in Game 1, Utah got a lot of clean looks in Game 2 and the Clippers will have to try and make some adjustments at home.
One adjustment will be getting Kawhi open for more shots. Leonard had 134 field goal attempts in the series against Dallas over seven games for an average of 19 FGA per game. That may work against a Dallas team that doesn’t usually rain down from three and a Mavericks team that doesn’t have the balanced scoring of the Jazz. Kawhi has averaged 18 FGA per game in this series, but that’s not good enough against the Jazz. The best player needs the ball in his hands. His Usage Rate is down nearly 3% in this series.
On the other hand, maybe the Clippers are going to have the luxury of being patient. Mitchell will get his, but nobody expects Clarkson to keep shooting 52% from three-point land. Bogdan Bogdanovic is also over 50%. The Clippers have been more efficient at the free throw line. Perhaps getting Utah on the road will allow some natural regression to kick in offensively.
Jazz vs. Clippers Free Pick
We didn’t see an adjustment to the total in Game 2 and probably should have. Game 1 closed 222.5 and Game 2 closed 222, even though both teams were likely to have a little more offensive success in the next game. It happened and the game went over the total. In Game 3, with the total bumped a bit, it seems fair to look under. The Clippers are going to have to commit more on defense. Utah shot over 50% from three in the game. That probably won’t happen again. The game still only went over by five points.
Pick: Under 223.5