LA. Clippers at Utah
Time: 9 PM CST, ESPN
Spread: UTA -6
Odds c/o 5dimes
The Los Angeles Clippers are 3-1 and are still without starting forward Paul George, who is still roughly two weeks away from making his Clippers debut, out with a shoulder injury. Kawhi Leonard is day-to-day but is ow ruled OUT for this game against the Utah Jazz. With both its star forwards sidelined, NBA oddsmakers have set the spread 6-points in favor of the hosting Jazz. The over/under is set at 214.5 total points according to NBA oddsmakers at 5dimes.
The Clippers should still be a fairly formidable team even without Leonard available. In his place, Maurice Harkless will draw the start alongside Patrick Patterson and Ivica Zubac. Zubac has been a monster defensively protecting the rim, and he is backed up by one of the best per-minute scorers at the 5-spot in Montrezl Harrell.
The Clippers will have such a strong six-man rotation at the 3/4/5 spots once George and Leonard are both healthy. In the meantime, JaMychal Green has been putting in very valuable minutes in helping fill out the rotation, while Lou Williams continues to drop massive numbers of buckets in his Sixth Man role.
Patrick Beverley is the team leader and a vocal coordinator on the defensive end, and his value cannot be understated. Along with late-season acquisition Landry Shamet, who the Clippers obtained from Philadelphia last season, and the rotational defense is about as good as can be expected, though Doc Rivers said it has been merely “Good,” and that he expects it to be better still.
That is a scary thought for the rest of the Association because with Zubac providing rim protection that was not necessarily anticipated, the Clippers can be frighteningly tenacious defensively with so many interchangeable parts and an anchor that functions well behind it all. Harrell has been awesome scoring the ball off the bench, shooting 76.2 percent from the field and averaging 20.5 points and 6.8 rebounds per game in 30 minutes a night. With the Clippers so resplendent in-depth and so strong on defense, it should be a title-contending team, but finds itself still underdogs on the road with its battered up starting lineup currently.
The Utah Jazz is 3-1 and 2-0 at home. Donovan Mitchell has averaged 24 points, five rebounds and 3.3 assists per game and the Jazz added a second scorer to complement him in Bojan Bogdanovic. Bogdanovic is the No. 2 scorer at 23.7 points per game while shooting 45.5 percent from three on 7.3 attempts per game. Mitchell, too, is connecting on the three, hitting 43.8 percent on four attempts a game.
The Jazz has managed to allow Emmanuel Mudiay to turn his career around. Through four games, he is seeing nearly 20 minutes a night while averaging 10 points and 3.5 assists per game. A former No. 6 overall pick, Mudiay has been through a couple of NBA teams already and may have finally settled in Utah as the first point guard off the bench.
Rudy Gobert has been his typical self with nine points, 11.8 rebounds and 2.1 steals/blocks per game. Somehow he is blocking under one shot per game, but he is also still getting in foul trouble fairly often (3.5 fouls per game). Gobert has yet to hit stride, really, and his role in the offense is still minimal. The Jazz averages just 98.8 points per game as a team, using defense to stifle the pace and maximize possessions.
It has been Utah’s M.O. for a while, and Mitchell is becoming a better isolation scorer due to his role as such early in his NBA career. Bogdanovic is going to have to keep up the same scoring energy and usage rate the remainder of the season, particularly if Mike Conley continues to struggle. The Jazz was ultimately very excited to add Conley to the lineup, but he has averaged just 7.8 points per game while shooting 20 percent from the field and 15 percent from three. Obviously those numbers will not remain that low all season, but Conley has yet to settle in and find his rhythm since becoming a member of the Jazz.