The Back Story (The Clippers won the season series 3-0):
|12/28/13||Los Angeles||Clippers 98, Jazz 90||Recap||Box|
|02/01/14||Los Angeles||Clippers 102, Jazz 87||Recap||Box|
|03/14/14||Salt Lake City||Clippers 96, Jazz 87||Recap||Box|
The Big Picture:
The Clippers will face the second game of the season's first back-to-back, coming off a disappointing loss. While the Clippers managed to grab a couple of wins in their first two games despite lackluster play, it finally caught up with them on Sunday against the Kings. In the first two games, they had little help off the bench, but that was not the case Sunday. Without Jamal Crawford, who sat out Sunday's game with bruised ribs and is doubtful for tonight, the bench managed to score 36 points. But it was the starters who lacked offensive ambition this time, and only shot a combined 33% from the field. The loss was disappointing, yes, but not unexpected given the type of basketball the Clippers have been playing. They have a chance to right the ship tonight though, against a team that logic says they should beat.
The Utah Jazz were the worst team in the West last season, but they've clearly got their eye on the future now. They signed guard Alec Burks to a $42 million extension and have Gordon Hayward and Derrick Favors locked up long term as well. They also boast promising French-born second-year center Rudy Gobert, whose defensive efforts have earned him one of the greatest nicknames in the NBA, "The Stifle Tower." They're a talented young squad looking for their identity and direction, and have the necessary firepower to pounce on the Clippers if they play the way they have been so far this season.
- Comparison of key metrics. Last season, the Clippers were the best team in the league offensively and the Jazz were the worst defensively. I'm gonna go ahead and ignore this season's sample size of just three games and say that the potential for a blowout in the Clippers' favor is a real one.
- Bench play. With Jamal Crawford out for an undetermined amount of time (he's officially listed as day-to-day and doubtful for tonight), the bench has some big shoes (and shots) to fill. Crawford almost singlehandedly put the Clippers in a position to win against the Lakers with his gutsy, and thankfully, good, shooting, and the Clippers are definitely missing some of that late game gusto. Spencer Hawes stepped in on Sunday and scored 17 off the bench in the loss and Jordan Farmar added 10, but Chris Douglas-Roberts has yet to show up for the Clippers. Big Baby remains out with his groin injury, and the bench still has a lot to improve upon moving forward.
- 4 in 5. Tonight marks the end of the Clippers sprint to start the season — they're playing their fourth game in five nights. As a fan, this is the perfect pace for my interests, but the Clippers look like they desperately need some practice days in. After tonight, the Clippers have a date with Golden State on Wednesday, and don't play after that until Saturday.
- Rebounding. The Clippers have been out-rebounded in each of their first three games, and the likes of Favors and Gobert are more than capable of nabbing a bundle for themselves, especially offensively. The last thing this struggling Clippers team needs is to give their opponent more looks on offense, so let's see if DeAndre Jordan and Blake Griffin are up to the challenge.
- The Booker scuffle. In the words of Ralph Lawler, they weren't happy earlier, now they're really unhappy! Trevor Booker and Blake Griffin got into a bit of a skirmish in the preseason after Blake took exception to a hard foul. Blake has already faced Serge Ibaka and DeMarcus Cousins this season; will he be able to keep his cool with Booker now in town?
- Connections. Former Clipper forward Steve Novak is on the bench for the Jazz. Joe Ingles went through training camp this year with the Clippers, but was waived before the start of the season. Jingles was promptly picked up by the Jazz.
- Get the Utah perspective at SLC Dunk.
- Wikipedia definition: Jazz is the seventh studio album by British rock band Queen, released on 10 November 1978. Roy Thomas Baker temporarily reunited with the band and became their producer; it was three years since he co-produced their 1975 album A Night at the Opera, but this album also was the last he co-produced for the band. The album's varying musical styles were alternately praised and criticised. It reached #2 in the UK Albums Chart and #6 on the US Billboard 200.