The LA Clippers will travel to Utah to take on the Jazz after losing to the 76ers on Tuesday. As usual for a second game of a back-to-back, the Clippers will be short-handed. Check out our preview of the Clippers’ contest against the Jazz below:
Where: Vivint Arena, Salt Lake City, UT
When: 6:00 PM PT
How to Watch: ClipperVision, Bally Sports SoCal
How to Listen: AM 570 KLAC
Projected Starting Lineups
Clippers: Reggie Jackson – Terance Mann – Nicolas Batum – Marcus Morris, Sr. – Ivica Zubac
Jazz: Mike Conley, Jr. – Jordan Clarkson – Malik Beasley – Jarred Vanderbilt – Walker Kessler
Clippers: Paul George, Out (hamstring); Kawhi Leonard, Out (rest); Luke Kennard, Out (calf); John Wall, Out (abdominal); Brandon Boston Jr, Out (G-League); Moussa Diabate, Out (G-League); Jason Preston Out (G-League)
Jazz: Lauri Markkanen, Questionable (hip); Kelly Olynyk, out (ankle)
The Big Picture
After Tuesday night’s loss, Paul George said that he would not play Wednesday in Utah because the Clippers are being “smart” about his hamstring soreness (h/t Justin Russo and others). Kawhi Leonard’s availability has not been reported, but it is unlikely that he plays his first back-to-back of the season this time around. Reggie Jackson seems likely to play, but his back did tighten up towards the end of Tuesday’s game, so it is possible he is limited or even out against the Jazz.
The above lineup, then, is a guess that should be taken with a grain of salt. It is possible, though, that we see Reggie start (if he is healthy) because Ty Lue wants to limit how much time Norman Powell and him play together. Regardless, the Clippers will be short-handed and will need a role player—like Terance Mann or Marcus Morris, Sr.—to take on a heavy offensive load. Like, really heavy.
Defensively, the Clippers might catch a break. Olynyk and Markkanen, who are liable to give the Clippers trouble, are currently listed as unavailable. Terance Mann, perhaps the Clippers’ best defensive guard, can spend a lot of time covering Clarkson. And the Clippers are familiar with this team, given that this is the fourth and final game of the season series between these teams. On the whole, the Jazz are not the worst team the Clippers could be playing this short-handed.
While the Clippers have a path to a win, the forces working against them are significant. They will have a rest disadvantage; they have to travel; their roster will shrink by at least one starter—probably two; and the Jazz are one of the highest scoring teams in the league, while the Clippers are one of the lowest.
Moreover, the Clippers play again on Friday, so Ty Lue may quit on this game early if the Clippers find themselves in an early hole. Friday’s game against the Spurs is an absolute must-win—no matter what.
Rooting Interests: The last ten games have significantly altered the Clippers’ season in just about the most negative way possible. Currently, the Clippers are stuck in the middle of the huge glut of mediocre Western Conference teams, between six and thirteen in the standings. Here are the other games taking place on Wednesday that affect the Clippers:
- Hawks @ Mavericks (go Hawks)
- Pacers @ Thunder (go Pacers)
- Heat @ Pelicans (go Heat, although the Pelicans are out of reach)
- Cavaliers @ Grizzlies (again, the Grizzlies are out of reach but why not—go Cavs)
- Timberwolves @ Nuggets (go Nuggets)
- Kings @ Lakers (both teams losing help, so this is a wash)
The Norman Powell Roller Coaster: From December to January, Norm’s field goal percentage is down 9% (though 3P% is stable). He’s getting fewer free throw attempts, even though his overall attempts are up. His splits over the season have been all over the place, but looking at his game-to-game stat lines is even more confusing. In a four day stretch, for example, he has had a 12% shooting game and a 64% shooting game.
Notably, in wins, Norm’s splits are 50/43/82. In losses, he is 44/34/69. When the Norm Roller Coaster is up, so too are the Clippers. When he’s on the way down, we see what we saw on Tuesday—a loss.
That about does it for this preview of the super short handed Clippers’ game against the Jazz. As always, check out The Lob The Jam The Podcast and Clips ‘N Dip for analysis throughout the week, and follow us on Twitter to watch the game with us!