Utah Jazz Vs. Los Angeles Clippers Series Preview
SALT LAKE CITY, Utah – The Utah Jazz will face the Los Angeles Clippers in the second round of the NBA playoffs beginning Tuesday in Salt Lake City.
The fourth-seeded Clippers defeated the fifth-seeded Dallas Mavericks in the opening round, winning three road games in Dallas before closing out the series at home in game seven.
Turning the idea of home-court advantage on its head, neither team won a home game until the series finale, with the Clippers earning all but one of their victories on the road. That may be a promising sign for LA who travels to Utah to open the second round of the postseason on Tuesday.
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Jazz Get Mini-Break Before Facing Clippers
Just as they did before their opening-round series against the Memphis Grizzlies, the Jazz were able to enjoy a few days off before facing the Clippers.
The Jazz eliminated the Grizzlies in game five on Wednesday night and will have had five full days off before hosting LA on Tuesday.
The team’s extended break did leave them looking rusty in their series-opening loss to the Grizzlies, though the surprise absence of Donovan Mitchell did little to ease the Jazz execution problems.
Mitchell returned in game two, and the Jazz quickly dispensed of the Grizzlies in the next four games.
14 first quarter points. light work 🕷 pic.twitter.com/YsBmN2DKig
— utahjazz (@utahjazz) June 3, 2021
Upon his return, the All-Star guard averaged 28.5 points, 5.8 assists, and 3.0 rebounds while shooting an efficient 45 percent from the floor and 40 percent from the three-point line.
Mitchell did so averaging just 29.5 minutes per game in the opening round, becoming the only player to qualify as a top 15 scorer in the playoffs so far while averaging fewer than 30 minutes.
Only the Philadelphia 76ers center Joel Embiid averaged more points per minute (1.01) than Mitchell (.95) in the first round.
Rest For Mike Conley
While rust may be a concern for the Jazz ahead of their round two matchups with the Clippers, the added rest for Mike Conley will be an advantage.
Conley reaggravated the right hamstring injury that has plagued him since February in the first quarter of the Jazz close-out victory over Memphis on Wednesday and missed the entire second half.
“The first quarter I felt a little tug or whatever in my hammy, I came to the bench and made the staff aware,” Conley said. “I told them I’d try to just run on it and play through it and see how it feels, and it just kept getting sorer and sorer the more I was running on it.”
Conley was diagnosed with a mild right hamstring strain on Thursday and will be re-evaluated before the second-round series opens.
Mike Conley has a mild right hamstring strain the @utahjazz said.
— KSL Sports (@kslsports) June 3, 2021
When Conley first suffered the injury in February, he sat out six games (13 days) before his return. When he reaggravated it in April, he missed nine games (17 days) before returning for the team’s two final regular-season games.
The guard said he was eyeing a return in the second round, but needed to listen to trainers.
“Obviously, it’s the playoffs so my mindset is to be ready to play,” Conley said, “so that’s the visual I’m going to put in front of myself that I’m going to be ready. But at the same time, we’re going just see what happens in the next few days and be smart about how we approach it.”
Conley averaged 20 points, 10.3 assists, and 4.8 rebounds while shooting 44 percent from the floor and 53 percent from the three-point line in the first four games of the Jazz opening-round series.
Leonard, George Carry LA To Match Up With Jazz
While Mitchell played a central role in the Jazz opening round victory upon his return, it was veterans Kawhi Leonard and Paul George who propelled the Clippers past the Mavericks.
Leonard averaged 32.1 points in the series, the four-most of any player in the opening round to lead LA over Dallas.
The forward was nearly unstoppable, shooting 61 percent from the floor and 42 percent from three throughout the series.
Behind backboard but still got the bucket. pic.twitter.com/8pAVptwVdI
— LA Clippers (@LAClippers) June 3, 2021
George meanwhile had a strong showing for the Clippers. The guard averaged 23.5 points per game while adding a teaming-leading 9.0 rebounds and 5.7 assists.
The Clippers chose to go small against the Mavericks late in the series, using forward Nicolas Batum at center to counter Dallas’ hot shooting in games one and two. Ultimately the move helped LA win the series as it took helped neutralize the Maverick’s floor spacing, and neutralizing Dallas’ shooting.
After leading the NBA in three-point shooting percentage (41.1 percent) during the regular season, the Clippers dropped to seventh in the league during the opening round of the playoffs connecting on just 37.3 percent of their attempts.
Jazz And Clippers Season Series
The Jazz beat the Clippers in two out of the team’s three meetings this season, winning the first two games of the series.
On January 1, the Jazz beat LA 105-100 behind a 33 point, seven assist performance from Mike Conley. The win was the first in a 24-game home winning streak to open the New Year.
The Jazz again beat the Clippers on February 17, wining 114-96 and clinching the series tie-breaker. Los Angeles was without Leonard, George, Batum, and guard Luke Kennard, while the Jazz were playing without Conley.
— utahjazz (@utahjazz) February 20, 2021
On February 19, the Clippers earned their lone victory in the series 116-112. Both teams returned to their full lineups in the final meeting of the season allowing LA to eek out the victory.
The Clippers led by as much as 13 points in the fourth quarter, a deficit the Jazz trimmed to just two points in the waning seconds, but were unable to get over the jump and sweep the season series.
Second Round Series Schedule
The Jazz and Clippers will open the season series on Tuesday in Salt Lake City at 8 pm MT on TNT.
— Ben Anderson (@BensHoops) June 4, 2021
Game two will be held Thursday in Utah before traveling to Los Angeles to face the Clippers in games three and four on Saturday and Monday.
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