Donovan Mitchell and the Jazz welcome Kawhi Leonard and the Clippers to town for Game 1 of the Western Conference semifinals on Tuesday. (Photo by Ringo Chiu/Zuma Press/Icon Sportswire)
- The Clippers visit the Jazz on Tuesday, June 8th for Game 1 of the Western Conference semifinals
- Utah enters as a 4-point favorite in the series opener
- Get the odds, preview, injury report, and prediction below
The Los Angeles Clippers and Utah kick off their second-round matchup on Tuesday, with tip-off scheduled for 10pm ET.
After falling into an 0-2 hole, LA eventually bounced back and beat Luka Doncic and the Dallas Mavericks 4-3 in their opening series. As for the Jazz, they took care of the Memphis Grizzlies in just five games.
The season series saw Utah take two out of three. However, one of their victories was against a Clips team that was missing Kawhi Leonard, Paul George, and Nicolas Batum.
Clippers vs Jazz Odds
|Team||Spread||Moneyline||Total at FanDuel|
|Los Angeles Clippers||+4 (-114)||+138||Ov 220 (-108)|
|Utah Jazz||-4 (-106)||-164||Un 220 (-112)|
Odds as of June 7th.
For the Clippers, big man Serge Ibaka (back) didn’t travel to Utah with the team and is expected to miss the first two contests of the series. He hasn’t played since Game 2 against Dallas. While Ty Lue opted for a small-ball approach in round one, he’ll likely turn to Ivica Zubac more frequently to try and contain the massive Rudy Gobert, who is a force to be reckoned with in the paint.
Mike Conley left Game 5 vs Memphis last week and was diagnosed with a hamstring strain. Unfortunately, it’s the exact same injury that caused him to miss time late in the season. He’s questionable for the series opener, but there’s optimism about his return in Game 2. Expect Joe Ingles to slide in as the starter at point guard.
Clippers vs Jazz Projected Lineups
|Reggie Jackson||PG||Joe Ingles|
|Paul George||SG||Donovan Mitchell|
|Kawhi Leonard||SF||Bojan Bogdanovic|
|Marcus Morris||PF||Royce O’Neale|
|Ivica Zubac||C||Rudy Gobert|
Kawhi in Beast Mode
While it was definitely impressive that LA climbed their way back into the Dallas series, Leonard was the X-factor to his team avoiding an early exit. The Clippers’ star dropped 73 points combined in the last two contests of the first round, including a 45-point performance in Game 6. Kawhi never fails to rise to the occasion when needed and is certainly the main reason Los Angeles is in the West semis.
Leonard will need to be at his absolute best again, but the supporting cast has to be more efficient. Paul George averaged 23 points per game in the first round but he shot a mere 30% from downtown. Outside of this duo, there are just two players averaging double-digits in points right now.
A key to being competitive in the series will be figuring out how to limit Gobert. The reigning Defensive Player of the Year had his way with the Clippers during the regular season, averaging 14.3 points and 14.7 rebounds in their three meetings.
The joy of hoopin’.@MichelobULTRA | #ULTRAMoment pic.twitter.com/buyVHJ5BeB
— LA Clippers (@LAClippers) June 7, 2021
Zubac is the biggest body to counter the Frenchman, despite Batum playing a lot of the five against Dallas. DeMarcus Cousins is another option because of his size and strength, but he didn’t even get a sniff of minutes in round one.
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Utah Looking Dangerous
While the Grizzlies aren’t necessarily a daunting opponent, the Jazz handled them with ease. Quin Snyder’s team lives and dies by the three-ball and they shot it well against Memphis, draining 40.6% of their attempts.
The makes. The attempts. The accuracy.#ThreesOfTheWeek | @MountainAmerica pic.twitter.com/57381OVFS4
— utahjazz (@utahjazz) June 6, 2021
The Clippers, however, were one of the better teams in the league during the regular season at defending the perimeter. They held their opponents to a 36% clip from deep. LA did allow Dallas to absolutely go off in the first few games of the series though, so there is some vulnerability there.
Donovan Mitchell was impressive in his four appearances in the 2021 postseason after an extended amount of time out with an ankle injury. The former Louisville star didn’t miss a beat, putting up 28.5 points per contest while dishing out 5.8 assists. He has the ability to go toe-to-toe with Kawhi on the offensive end. Expect him to be a very important piece of Utah’s success in this matchup.
The Jazz had the best home record in the Association during the season with a 31-5 mark. They frankly don’t lose at Vivint Arena. While I’m not saying it won’t happen at some point, Utah is going to thrive off the home crowd here and get an upper hand in the series opener. Gobert’s success against the Clippers will shine through as LA will look to make the necessary adjustments to slowing down the Stifle Tower in Game 2.
Pick: Utah Jazz -4 (-106)
Quinn Allen is a sports journalist, with a background and education in broadcast journalism (BCIT ’17). He writes about European Football, Basketball, and Baseball for numerous sites across the globe.