A potential playoff preview is in store on Wednesday night, when the LA Clippers take on the host Utah Jazz in a battle of 3-1 teams. This will be a contrast in styles, as the Clippers come into the game third in the league in scoring at 121.5 points per game, while the Jazz lead the NBA in scoring defense, allowing just 91.5 points per contest.
Los Angeles rebounded from its first loss of the season at Phoenix with a blowout of Charlotte on Monday night. The Clippers are currently tied with the Los Angeles Lakers atop the Pacific Division with their 3-1 mark. Utah comes in on a two-game winning streak, having topped Sacramento and Phoenix following their lone loss against the Lakers. The Jazz are tied with Denver in second place in the Northwest Division, trailing first-place Minnesota, which is 3-0.
The moneyline for this contest has the LA Clippers +220 and the Utah Jazz -260. Utah is favored by 5.5 points at home, with the over/under for the game being set at 214.5.
The Clippers aren’t having any trouble scoring in the early going, with Kawhi Leonard leading the way with his 27 points per game. Leonard is also facilitating the offense, averaging a team-high 7.5 assists. There is a chance Leonard won’t play in this game since it is the first of a back-to-back for the Clippers, with Los Angeles facing Leonard’s former team, San Antonio, on Thursday. The major punch offensively outside of Leonard is from the bench, with Lou Williams (22.3) and Montrezl Harrell (20.5) both averaging more than 20 points a game.
Defensively, Los Angeles is allowing 112.5 points per game, but opponents are only shooting 43.9 percent from the field, including 37.6 percent from three-point range. The Clippers have two of the top individual defenders in the league in Leonard and Patrick Beverley, both of whom should have some time on Utah’s Donovan Mitchell in this one.
Perfect At Home
The Jazz play in one of the louder arenas in the league in the Vivint Smart Home Arena, giving them a solid home-court advantage. They’re 2-0 at home this season, giving up just 88 points per game. Utah defenders can be aggressive because of the presence of Rudy Gobert in the paint defensively, though the 7-footer does more intimidating than blocking, averaging just 0.8 blocks per game.
Mitchell has been strong offensively so far, leading the team with 24 points per game, with Bojan Bogdanovic contributing 23.7 points a contest. But Emmanuel Mudiay is the only other Utah player averaging in double figures with 10 points per game, something that must change going forward. Mike Conley has a career scoring average of 14.9 points, but he’s averaging just 7.8 this season, including shooting just 15 percent from three-point range. While he’s still feeling his way with his new team, the veteran needs to step up and be a scoring threat to keep defensive attention from focusing on Mitchell.
Jazz Win Defensive Battle
The Clippers are playing a bit shorthanded without Paul George and will likely be without Leonard as well for this one. Against the Jazz, that won’t be easy, as Utah can lock down defensively and Los Angeles will be without its top offensive weapon. I see Mitchell having a big game offensively and the Jazz winning a somewhat close game. I’m taking Utah -5.5 to get the win at home.