Clippers-Jazz playoff series is matchup of different styles

Ross Houston
April 15, 2017

The Cavaliers won't have LeBron James today, and are 0-7 this season when he doesn't play. The rookie general manager's role in that shocking development alone, no matter how small, would have been enough to win the league's only award reserved for front office members - in most years, at least.

"I'm sorry, but I'm just one of the people that believes the regular season has nothing to do with what starts tomorrow", Paul said.

Also, the Jazz have struggled with injuries all year and that issue is ongoing.

"Quin and I basically did the same thing", Spurs coach Gregg Popovich said. In the three games he played against the Clippers, however, he was kept in check, largely thanks to the efforts of Mbah a Moute. The 2008 Boston Celtics are an anomaly for a reason. "When teams miss, we get out in transition and that's when we're at our best", he said. If he can do that capably (and he's shown that he can, especially in the Jazz's lone win this season), he's going to be a huge value-add for the Jazz. Their three point defence, however, was below the league average, with opposing teams shooting 35.76% from beyond the arc.

Al Jefferson and Paul Millsap were in Utah the last time the Western Conference side were focusing on the play-offs.

Whether Favors or Hood step up could be a big difference in the series.

Still, opting against bringing either Millsap or Jefferson back was a bigger risk than it seems nearly four years later.

The seventh-year Jazz forward will play in his first playoff game since 2012 after scoring 14 in a 101-97 regular-season finale win over the San Antonio Spurs on Wednesday night.

Derrick Favors, Enes Kanter and Alec Burks gave the Jazz some promise, but there was no obvious path to contention through those incumbent youngsters in July 2013. Many would have pushed reset on the rebuild and tried to find the superstar the No. 5 pick of the 2014 draft was supposed to be. Over the past few seasons, they've dropped 17 of 19 games against L.A. But with the Jazz finally getting healthy, and with Hayward and Gobert becoming what they now are, some of that past can be tossed. This is the matchup that will drive eyeballs to the Clippers and Jazz series. All five starters scored in double figures for Los Angeles. What a good problem to have just two years removed from rebuilding belly-up. In four meetings this season, the Clippers won three. The Jazz led most of the night before a Kyle Anderson jumper tied the game at 88-88 with just under five minutes remaining.

The Clippers and Utah Jazz will meet in the first round starting Saturday. The win on Sunday was the third time in four seasons they reached the 54-win mark.

All that good and bad came to pass for Utah over the last six months.

The Clippers enter the playoffs as possibly the association's hottest team, winning seven straight to end the regular season. No. 6 Oklahoma City.

A week ago, Atlanta's playoff hopes were in jeopardy after a dismal stretch that included two losses to Brooklyn, the worst team in the National Basketball Association.

Like the Clippers, the Jazz face significant consequences based on how their postseason plays out. The Clippers' Chris Paul, Blake Griffin, DeAndre Jordan and company will seek to prove their doubters wrong this postseason.

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