With Kawhi Leonard Out, How Much Should Jazz Adjust Gameplan?

Jun 16, 2021, 6:49 PM
Donovan Mitchell - Utah Jazz vs. Los Angeles Clippers Game 2...
Donovan Mitchell #45 of the Utah Jazz drives in front of Kawhi Leonard #2 of the LA Clippers in Game Two of the Western Conference second-round playoff series at Vivint Smart Home Arena on June 10, 2021 in Salt Lake City, Utah. (Photo by Alex Goodlett/Getty Images)
(Photo by Alex Goodlett/Getty Images)

SALT LAKE CITY, Utah – On Tuesday night, the main focus coming out of the Utah Jazz film session ahead of game five against the Los Angeles Clippers was adjustments. How were the Jazz going to adjust to the Clippers roster that had beat them by an average of 20 points in games three and four?

By Wednesday morning, the entire complexion of the series had changed as news broke the Kawhi Leonard’s knee injury suffered late in game four was more serious than previously recognized and will cause him to miss game five, and potentially the rest of the series.

Now with Leonard out of the lineup, the Jazz must ask themselves, do they proceed with the adjustments they made to counter a lineup featuring a top-five player in the world, or go back to their own gameplan, understanding they have the upper hand in talent with Leonard off the floor?

“There are probably things that we can tweak that have to do with lineups and who’s playing,” Jazz coach Quin Snyder said.

Not only is Leonard the Clippers leading scorer in the playoffs, but he’s also one of the NBA’s premier perimeter defenders. Leonard’s length, strength, and instincts have played a big role in limiting the Jazz perimeter scorers from finding their rhythm outside of Donovan Mitchell.

On the other end of the floor, much of the Clippers’ offense is run through the superstar.

“No one isolates at the nail better in the world than he does,” Snyder said of Leonard.” So there’s obviously some things like that, his post-ups that he was playmaking out of in the post, and then obviously defensively — anytime you lose a player like that, it impacts the series.”

But while Leonard is sidelined for an indefinite amount of time, the Jazz know they must prevent let All-Star teammate Paul George from picking up the slack.

“There are things that we need to take away and have taken away at certain points in the game,” Snyder said of George. “But he’s he’s a heck of a player and he’s been able to do some things and obviously that still remains the case.”

The Jazz and Clippers tip-off game five at 8 pm MT. The game will be broadcast on TNT.

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With Kawhi Leonard Out, How Much Should Jazz Adjust Gameplan?