The LA Clippers return home against the surprising Utah Jazz after a successful 2-0 road trip.
Where: Crypto.com Arena, Los Angeles, CA
When: 6:00 PM PT
How to Watch: Clippervision, KTLA
Projected Starting Lineups
Clippers: Reggie Jackson – Norman Powell – Paul George – Marcus Morris – Ivica Zubac
Jazz: Mike Conley Jr. – Jordan Clarkson – Lauri Markkanen – Kelly Olynyk – Walker Kessler
Clippers: Kawhi Leonard out (injury management), Luke Kennard out (chest discomfort), Robert Covington questionable (return to competition reconditioning), Jason Preston (G League assignment), Moussa Diabate (G League assignment).
Jazz: Jarred Vanderbilt questionable (right adductor soreness), Leandro Bolmaro out (return to competition reconditioning), Johnny Juzang (G League assignment), Micah Potter (G League assignment).
The Big Picture
After a rocky start to the season, the LA Clippers have been playing some slightly better basketball. They’re currently on a three-game winning streak including two road games in Houston and San Antonio. They still have stretches were they look a little out of sorts but there has been some improvement.
The main things that have been standing out on this current streak are the play of both Paul George and Ivica Zubac. George has been nothing short of spectacular, averaging close to 33 points over these three games. With Kawhi Leonard’s status up in the air from week to week, this is probably the level of play the Clippers are going to need from George on a nightly basis. He’s one of the most gifted and skilled players in the league and quite capable of being the primary scoring option.
It’s not just his scoring that is powering the Clippers: he’s doing a little bit of everything on the court. He’s been playing strong defense, getting in the passing lanes and causing turnovers and he’s moving the ball and acting as a playmaker.
In Zubac’s case, he’s playing like someone who deserves a spot on one of the All-Defense teams. His rim protection and presence in the paint has been phenomenal for the Clippers. He’s doing a good job cleaning up on the glass and his finishing around the rim has been spectacular. He’s been arguably the Clippers most consistent player this season. The Clippers lack of a true backup center has been an issue this season and Zubac has been playing a lot more minutes. But he’s been responding in impressive fashion. Against the Spurs on Friday, he had one of his best games of the season with 17 points, 15 rebounds and four blocked shots.
In the Clippers thrilling win against the Houston Rockets on Halloween, it was the two-man game of George and Zubac in the pick and roll that finished the game off. A healthy dose of that play is what the Clippers need to work around moving forward until other players can start to find their rhythm.
This is going to be a big game for Terence Mann as well. He’s been supplanted in the rotation by Luke Kennard so far this season and against the Spurs he only played three minutes and went scoreless on 0-3 shooting. No Kennard against the Jazz means that Mann will have an opportunity to step it up and provide relief.
The Utah Jazz come to town as one of the top teams in the NBA with a 7-3 record. They’re coming off a Saturday win on the road where they obliterated an improving LA Lakers in impressive fashion. This was a team that was supposed to be in the running for the Victor Wembanyama sweepstakes but it looks like the teams has other plans.
Lauri Markkanen has been playing like an All-Star and they’ve gotten a huge boost from Collin Sexton off the bench in the Jordan Clarkson sixth man role. Clarkson is now in the starting lineup and playing very well.
This is a team that is efficient offensively, shoots it well from three-point range and plays defense. Veterans like Mike Conley Jr. and Kelly Olynyk have been playing well and young center Jarred Vanderbilt is having a career-year.
This is going to be a tough one for the Clippers, although they may have the advantage due to the Jazz being on the second game of a back-to-back.