The Clippers host the Jazz in the first of a two-game series at STAPLES Center, their final matchups of the regular season. Patrick Beverley is scheduled to return, but the Clippers will remain severely shorthanded. Read on for the full Clippers vs Jazz game preview:

Game Information

Where: STAPLES Center, Los Angeles, CA

When: 7:00 PM PT

How to Watch: Fox Sports Prime Ticket, 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

Injuries

Jazz: QUESTIONABLE — Mike Conley (hamstring)

Clippers: OUT — Paul George (toe); OUT — Nicolas Batum (concussion); QUESTIONABLE — Kawhi Leonard (lower leg)

The Big Picture

. . . is daunting.

Monday night’s win over Miami was something to savor. And I hope you have, because what follows is a two-game set against the West-leading Utah Jazz. It’s a tremendous step-up in competition under the best of circumstances, and if the injury report holds, we’ll be dealing with circumstances well short of that.

Games against fellow contenders require all hands on deck. While Patrick Beverley is expected to return, Nicolas Batum will miss his second consecutive game with a concussion. Playing without an ace role-player is challenge enough. Playing without foundational stars Kawhi Leonard and Paul George is downright unfair.

But fairness is not the concern of the NBA schedule once it’s underway. The Jazz are here, for two nights at that, and the games will go on. (Let’s ignore the possibility of a sudden outbreak.)

With no announcement at the time of this writing, I’ve projected Terance Mann into the starting lineup and Lou Williams back to the bench, although Tyronn Lue may find a way to keep his best remaining playmaker in his top five. No matter who takes the floor for the good guys, the best they can do is the best they can do. Here’s hoping they make a game of it.

The Antagonist

. . . has won 19 of its last 20 games to storm to the top of the Western Conference.

Gone is the stingy defensive-minded Utah of yore, replaced instead by the Air Raid Jazz of 2021. Wait, that’s not right. Utah is second in defensive efficiency and more than a full-point better than third. So, what they’ve done is amass a long-range arsenal behind the stone walls of their impenetrable fortress.

Seems unfair, and yet, that’s how they’ve gotten here. Gobert is still the biggest obstacle in a thicket of arms. Donovan Mitchell has help, as Mike Conley has found his way in what may be — FINALLY — his first All-Star season. (Probably not, but some of us can hope for the guy.) That he might return tonight after a five-game injury absence would only pile more granite atop the mountain the Clippers must climb. Joe Ingles is still jinglin’. Jordan Clarkson is a flamethrower. And I haven’t even mentioned Bogdanović yet.

Carrying an elite offense in your pocketbook with your elite defense earns you a seat in first-class on the train to Titletown. The franchise that seemed stuck in coach has forced its way into a car with the Lakers, the Bucks, and the Clippers. (And maybe the Sixers. Sorry, I’m keeping the Nets out for now.) Good for them. Tough for the other championship dreamers.

Game Thread

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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Thomas Wood

Thomas Wood

Writing about the Clippers since 2014 and also since 2019.

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