The Los Angeles Clippers are underdogs against the Utah Jazz.
The Jazz easily took care of business in the first round against the Memphis Grizzlies after the Grizzlies won the first game of the series. The Clippers lost the first game of their series and then one-upped the Jazz by going down 2-0 at home.
Los Angeles then won the next two games of the series and won Game 6 and Game 7 to take the series against the Mavericks. Sunday's 126-111 win over the Mavericks was the first time a home team had won a game in the series.
Los Angeles and Utah played three times in the regular season, and Utah won two of those games. The Jazz won the first two games between the two teams and then lost 116-112 in the third and final game.
Paul George and Kawhi Leonard played in two of those three games as the teams split those games. The duo didn’t play in the Jazz’s blowout win on Feb. 17.
Leonard was phenomenal on Sunday as he continued to show why he’s one of the best playoff performers in the NBA — 2020 playoff collapse notwithstanding. Leonard was 10-of-15 from the field and had 28 points and 10 rebounds to go with nine assists. George had 22 points and 10 assists as he’s stepped up in the 2021 playoffs after a postseason to forget a year ago.
The Jazz now have a healthy Donovan Mitchell going forward in the playoffs. He missed the Game 1 loss to the Grizzlies before returning in Game 2 with 25 points. That was Mitchell’s lowest-scoring game of the postseason. He had 29 points in Game 3 and then had 30 points in both Game 4 and Game 5.
The Jazz shot 41% from three against the Grizzlies, while Los Angeles was just over 35% against the Mavericks before shooting a wild 46.5% in Game 7.
The key for Los Angeles against Dallas was a small lineup that featured Marcus Morris and Nic Batum instead of Ivica Zubac. That lineup probably won’t work against the Jazz and Rudy Gobert. Zubac is going to need to play more — and better — minutes against the Jazz if the Clippers want to pull the upset.
With a wide-open Western Conference, you can make a case for either team. The Jazz’s depth is appealing in this series as the Clippers’ top options on the bench are Terance Mann and Luke Kennard. But the Clippers have Leonard. Would you rather bet on the team with the best player or the best roster?
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