The Clippers have moved on to the second round against the Jazz, which means its time for another series roundtable by the 213 Hoops staff!
Joey Linn: Clippers in 6
The Jazz are really good, and they didn’t get the 1-seed by mistake; however, I believe the Clippers will be too dynamic offensively for Utah’s perimeter defenders. While the Clippers have the defensive personnel to slow down Utah’s offensive attack, I don’t believe the same for the Jazz. Because Rudy Gobert holds down the paint better than anybody, this prediction will only be relevant if the Clippers shoot the way they did in Game 7 vs. Dallas. My bet is that they can and will.
Shapan Debnath: Clippers in 6
This is going to be a tough series: the Jazz don’t quite have a player as good as Luka Doncic but their guys after their offensive superstar are all SO much better than the Mavs. That said, I think the Clippers found out a lot about who they are and also learned a lot about how to use small ball to their advantage, which might prove to be a huge X-factor in trying to minimize Rudy Gobert’s impact.
Kenneth Armstrong: Clippers in 6
The Clippers figured a ton out during this first round series. Last year, the Clips-Mavs series turned out to be a warning that the Clippers were vulnerable. This year, it feels like we exorcized some demons. I expect Ty Lue will be even sharper this series, the Clippers’ shooting will get back to normal (or, at least more consistent, even if its worse than what they shot during the regular season), and I have faith in PG and Kawhi to play at an elite level because they were forced to go there against the Mavs.
Ralston Dacanay: Clippers in 7
After seeing the way my first round prediction—Clips in 5 over Dallas—absolutely aged like spoiled milk, I’ve decided to embrace the chaos. While it definitely won’t surprise most people if the Clippers wind up needing to go the distance again this time around, I believe the Clippers have the depth, coaching and tenacity needed to outlast the top-seeded Jazz in another banger series. I could also see L.A. closing out Utah earlier, however, if the Clippers are able to pick up right where they left off in Game 7 and knock down threes the way they are accustomed to.
Cole Huff: Clippers in 6
The Clippers aren’t going to face anyone on the Jazz who is even close to as good as Luka offensively. That’ll be a huge relief mentally for some of the Clippers players, although Utah has a far more dangerous cast of players on offense that could do damage. I don’t see the Clips being able to get a Game 7 win in SLC, so it’s looking like Clippers in 6 for me.
Thomas Wood: Jazz in 7
All things considered, this is a good matchup for the Clippers, likely a motivating factor for the team’s ignominious drop to the fourth seed in the waning days of the regular season. Utah lacks wing depth, and Rudy Gobert’s presence should be less impactful to the league’s most accomplished three-point shooting offense — we just watched the Clippers adjust to a similar defensive challenge. Which is an oblique way of saying that I’m concerned about the Clippers’ level of fatigue and Serge Ibaka’s continued absence. The Clippers won’t enjoy any of the two-day breaks offered by their first-round series, and I think the seven-game ordeal (and requisite comeback) will prove to be too deleterious.
Lucas Hann: Clippers in 6
The Utah Jazz are legitimately very good (no duh, Lucas, they had the best record in the NBA this season), but I think that the Clippers give them match-up problems–especially with the ability they demonstrated to play super-small for almost entire games to switch pick-and-roll actions while also countering Dallas’ giants in the lane. LA drops game 1 in Utah on a major rest disadvantage after going all-out in their final couple games against the Mavs, and then the Jazz claim game 5 at home with their backs against the wall–prompting immediate panic over the prospect of another blown 3-1 lead in the second round. But just like they did in the first round, LA shows a different type of resilience and determination than they had last season and gut out a game 6 win at home to close the series and advance to their first Western Conference Finals.
Michelle Uzeta: Clippers in 6
The Clippers and Jazz are fairly evenly matched, with key players on both squads that can be inconsistent in terms of production – Ingles and Clarkson (Utah) and Morris, George (LAC) across a series. The Clippers have more depth, however, as was evident in their First Round win against the Mavericks. They also have a head coach who is not afraid to make the adjustments required to win games, even if that means benching starters and battle-tested veterans. Additionally, injury may be a factor for the Jazz. Mike Conley has a mild hamstring strain and may be limited in his minutes or availability. Conley has played well against the Clippers historically, so his absence will favor LA. Also favoring LA, a well rested center to throw at Rudy Gobert. This will not be a series where Zu rides the pines. Bottom line: the Clippers are in stride and boast a deeper roster, excellent perimeter defenders and well-rested bigs. They will slow down Donovan Mitchell and company enough to take the series in 6, if not 5.
Shane Hoffman: Clippers in 6
Kawhi has reasserted himself as the West’s best player seemingly over night. In a matchup of jump-shooting teams, I’ll lean towards the team with more avenues for offense. While Rudy Gobert presents a tricky matchup on the interior, the Clip’s recent small-ball success could help play him off the floor.
Erik Olsgaard: Clippers in 7
After being completely wrong in the first series, I’m less bullish this time around. Remember how it took twin towers to stop the Clippers in the paint? Well, this time Gobert can do that singlehandedly. But conversely, the Clippers will have a much easier time defensively without Luka on the floor, as they seem more comfortable defending deep teams like the Jazz, than stopping superstars. They’ll match each other from three, so it’ll come down to whether Kawhi and PG can do what they do best.
Robert Flom: Clippers in 6
The Clippers match up well with the Jazz, who don’t have anyone nearly as talented as Luka Doncic offensively and rely on a smaller guard in Donovan Mitchell who the Clippers can throw size on throughout the series. On the other hand, the Jazz are simply a much better team than the Mavs, with far superior depth and several more playmakers and creators. The Jazz also have a rest advantage, and have a raucous home court. If the Clippers can take one of the first two games, I think they win the series in 6. But if the Jazz take the first two, I think they’re too good to beat 4 out of 5 times, and that they close out the series in 7.