The Clippers face the Jazz for the second time in three days Friday at STAPLES Center, marking the franchises’ final matchup of the regular season. Enjoy the game preview for this showdown between the Clippers and Jazz, two of the best teams in the NBA.
Where: STAPLES Center, Los Angeles, CA
When: Friday, February 19, 2021 at 7:00 PM PT
How to Watch: Fox Sports Prime Ticket; ESPN
How to Listen: AM 570 LA Sports
Projected Starting Lineups
Jazz: Donovan Mitchell — Joe Ingles — Royce O’Neale — Bojan Bogdanović — Rudy Gobert
Clippers: Patrick Beverley — Reggie Jackson — Terance Mann — Marcus Morris Sr — Serge Ibaka
Jazz: QUESTIONABLE — Mike Conley (hamstring)
Clippers: QUESTIONABLE — Paul George (toe); Nicolas Batum (concussion); Kawhi Leonard (lower leg); Luke Kennard (sore knee)
The Big Picture
The Clippers dropped Wednesday night’s contest with the first place Jazz, losing steam half-way through the third quarter of a hitherto unexpectedly entertaining and hard-fought battle. It is anticipated that the Clippers will again be shorthanded for Friday’s matchup, with at least four players battling injury, but fans should expect another high-energy clash highlighting LA’s heart, hustle and depth.
Wednesday’s win over the Clippers marked the ninth consecutive win for the 20-5 Jazz, and their 20th win in 21 games. The Jazz were predictably led by the talented duo of Donovan Mitchell (24 points, 7 rebounds, 7 assist and 4 steals) and Rudy Gobert (23 points, 20 rebounds, 1 block and 1 steal). Jordan Clarkson and Joe Ingles also contributed significantly, combining for 32 points.
Utah’s defense, second best in the NBA, held the Clippers to just 96 points.
Gobert was particularly effective in the second half of Wednesday’s contest, and set the tone for the rest of his team. The seven-footer’s aggressiveness on both ends of the floor helped Utah come back from a five-point halftime deficit and propelled them to a decisive victory. Gobert logged 17 of his 23 points in the final two frames and altered the Clippers’ offense significantly by simply lurking around the rim. If more of the Clippers’ key players don’t return tonight, this performance by the Jazz and Gobert is probably a good preview of what we will see in this one too.
- Turnovers: The Clippers were active participants in their own demise Wednesday, committing 17 turnovers on the night. Although Utah boasts an elite defense, many of LA’s turnovers were unforced. The Clippers need to take care of the ball better on Friday if they want a chance of pulling out a win.
- Perimeter Shooting: Utah ranks second in the league in terms of fewest opponent three-pointers attempted (31.2), and fourth in opponent three-point percentage (35.2). On Wednesday, the Jazz held the Clippers to 26 three-pointers attempted and 34.6 percent made, even lower than these season averages. The Clippers have relied heavily on outgunning their opponent from beyond the arc, averaging 34 three-pointers attempted and connecting on 42.2 percent. Marcus Morris and Lou Williams did not shoot well last game, connecting on only 26.7 percent and 33.3 percent from the field respectively. Not a winning combo. With the Jazz’s Gobert (and, to a lesser extent Derrick Favors) protecting the paint, the Clippers need to increase efficiency from long range to remain competitive. Having Paul George, Kawhi Leonard, Nicolas Batum and/or Luke Kennard return to the rotation would help immensely, of course, but at this point, we don’t know if they will be available.
- Rebounds: Offensive rebounds were an issue for the Clippers, as they allowed the Jazz 16, resulting in 21 second chance points. Although Gobert is a big boy and excellent rebounder, boxing out goes a long way in mitigating the damage he does on the boards. On too many occasions the Clipper defenders were left flatfoot looking up at the basket, while the Jazz moved right around them to secure the ball after a missed bucket.
- Silver Linings: Despite the final score, which suggested a total blow out, there were silver linings to Wednesday’s game. Lou Williams’ defense was pretty damn good. He continues to improve in his ability to stay in front of players and against the Jazz pulled off a couple of pick-pocket style steals.
Additionally, Terance Mann and Amir Coffey continue to impress. Mann finished Wednesday’s game with 8 points on 3 for 6 shooting, 4 rebounds and 3 assists, while Coffey (whose confidence is brewing) contributed 13 points on 5 for 6 shooting and 4 rebounds. The experience these two fan favorites are getting in this stretch is incredible, and they are definitely making the most of their time on the floor. ICYMI, check out these highlights from our young guns.
That’s all for our preview of tonight’s contest between the Clippers and the Jazz. The comments for this post will be the live thread. Sign up for a free account and join the conversation!
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