Los Angeles Clippers at Utah Jazz
Game 4 – Time: 8 PM (CT) TNT
Spread: UTA -3.5
Odds c/o 5dimes
The Los Angeles Clippers prevailed as 1.5 point favorites in Game 3, winning by a score of 111-106, to take a 2-1 edge in the Best of Seven opening round series against the Utah Jazz. Once again for the Utah Jazz, its defensive centerpiece, 5-man Rudy Gobert, is listed as questionable for Game 4. Even so, NBA oddsmakers at 5dimes are favoring the Jazz to defend its homecourt, listing Utah as 3.5-point favorites in Game 4 with another low over/under of just 196 points.
The Clippers now lead the series 2-1.
To be clear, Gobert’s status is elemental in determining how to approach betting in this contest. The Jazz are a strong team without “The Stifle Tower,” but his presence in the paint is a game-changing factor that cannot be ignored. Whether or not Gobert is to play in this contest should be considered by each and every bettor approaching this game’s 3.5 point odds. He was initially listed as “doubtful,” but his status was upgraded to “questionable.” the injury itself was listed as a hyperextension and a bone bruise, from which little can actually be determined.
“Hyperextension” is a method of injury and tells little about the extent of damage Gobert may or may not have incurred. Similarly, the bone bruise is fairly self-explanatory, but the depth and degree of the bruise is left rather ambiguous to all but Jazz team medical staff. What can be gathered is that the upgrade in his status shows he has made an improvement, and further that the Jazz and Gobert realize how essential his presence is to defeating the L.A. Clippers to advance to the second round.
Beyond this, it is simply a lot of dicey guesswork, and approaching this game from a betting standpoint is equally as befuddling.
Adding to this confusion is the fact that the Clippers, also, are without a key player. Power forward Blake Griffin was ruled out for the remainder of the postseason, an injury that impacts the Clippers perhaps just as much as Utah is by the status of its star defensive player. Griffin has battled injuries over the past two seasons, but this most recent obviously comes at the worst time for a team that was just starting to come together in what may be its final season together as a unit.
Griffin will be a free agent after this season, and the thought from many NBA analysts is that he has already, in fact, played his last games in a Clipper uniform.
However, the Clippers have been a resilient bunch through numerous injuries, and star point guard Chris Paul has always shown an acumen to pick up the loose slack when Griffin or other key stars are missing from the rotation. To expect “CP3” to turn in one of his finest career performances is hardly out of the question. Whether or not Paul stepping up will be enough is an altogether different matter, of course.
Perhaps that is what this Game 4 will end up boiling down to, with or without Gobert for the Jazz, and the Clippers undoubtedly being without its key All-Star power forward. It will take a concerted effort from the supporting cast of both teams to compensate for what could be a gimpy Gobert, and the Clippers are going to need an offensive punch perhaps from several players that do not provide it on a regular basis.
For Los Angeles, that could even mean turning to a usual offensive non-factor like Luc Richard Mbah a Moute, who somehow—and quite unexpectedly—provided 15 points on 6 of 9 shooting in Game 4. Beyond that, the Clippers will need 2-guard J.J. Redick to have one of his finer performances coming out of a game which saw him attempt just five field goals. Jamal Crawford, too, will be counted upon more heavily, as he provided just nine points in Game 4, well below what the two-time Sixth Man of the Year is capable of on his more explosive nights.
For Utah, should it be without the potential Defensive Player of the Year, it will simply require a full team effort in making up for the lack of its rim protector. That was hardly seen in Game 4 as the Jazz allowed 111 points for the Clippers, well above the 96 per game it regular surrenders during the regular season. Whatsoever the case for both teams, this is a game that has to be looked at from the standpoint of asking oneself, “Which team’s supporting cast will be up to the challenge of filling the gap?”
Does the bettor trust the veteran Joe Johnson to step up as he did in Game 1? Or does he feel more confident the always trigger-happy Jamal Crawford will break out of his shell and have a monster game?
Should Gobert play, this is an easy choice to pick Utah to both cover the spread and emerge as victors, but without the French defensive stalwart, the betting remains dicey. Perhaps waiting until close to game time to make any decisions may be best, barring any inside information that could hint to the status of Gobert. These teams are, rather, were, very closely pitted, but the loss of a key player on each side has affected this series—and bettors, of course—in ways that had not been anticipated when we covered the series in its preview here at Maddux Sports.