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Clippers Head to Utah to Take on the Struggling Jazz

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Spirited Squad Seeks to Extend Win Streak to Seven

NBA: Utah Jazz at Los Angeles Clippers Richard Mackson-USA TODAY Sports

After a wild win against the Houston Rockets and a sloppy victory against the Denver Nuggets this past week, the Los Angeles Clippers head to Utah on Saturday to face the Jazz. A win would extend the Clippers’ current win streak to seven.

THE GAME

When: Saturday, January 20, 2018 — 6:00 p.m. (PT)

Where: Vivint Smart Home Arena, Utah

TV: Fox Sports Prime Ticket

Radio: AM 570 L.A. Sports

PROBABLE STARTERS

Clippers: Blake Griffin, Willie Reed, Milos Teodosic, Tyrone Wallace, Lou Williams

Jazz: Derrick Favors, Rudy Gobert, Rodney Hood, Donovan Mitchell, Ricky Rubio

INJURIES

Clippers:

Patrick Beverley (knee) OUT

Danilo Gallinari (glute) OUT

DeAndre Jordan (ankle) OUT

Austin Rivers (Achilles) OUT

Utah:

Thabo Sefolosha (knee) OUT

BIG PICTURE

The Clippers are on an undeniable uptick, and suddenly very fun to watch. They’ve won 12 of their last 15 games thanks to their scrappy, energetic play, and are happily occupying the 8th seed in the west, 13 games behind the conference leading Golden State Warriors.

Injuries continue to plague the franchise, making their current position that much more commendable. The Clippers are still without multiple starters - Beverley, Gallinary and Jordan - and missing key scoring reserve Austin Rivers. They have nonetheless enjoyed success recently, led by Griffin, Teodosic, Williams, Montrezl Harrell, Wallace, and Jawun Evans. Offensively, Williams (23.2 ppg) and Griffin (22.3 ppg) have done most of the heavy lifting, with Harrell (8.3)and Wallace (12.4) also contributing. The Clippers’ defense has been inconsistent, but when it is locked in, it is a thing of beauty.

Saturday’s game will be the third time the Clippers have met the Jazz this season. The Clippers prevailed in the first meeting between the teams back in October, and the Jazz evened the record a month later. The match-up is the first out-of-state game for the Clippers in 2018.

THE ANTAGONIST

The Utah Jazz have lost 11 of their last 15 games. They find themselves 18.5 games behind the Warriors, and struggling to stay in the playoff picture. Saturday’s contest will be the second of back-to-back games for the Jazz; they played the New York Knicks on Friday. The game was hard fought, and Utah ultimately lost 115-117, with the Jazz starters logging a lot of minutes on the court. This ultimately bodes well for the Clippers, who enjoyed a day off on Friday and should be well rested for tip-off.

The Jazz have also seen their fair share of injuries. Center Gobert sat out 15 games before returning to the court on Friday against the New York Knicks. Gobert was nothing short of spectacular in the return, contributing 23 points and 14 rebounds. Gobert should perform solidly against the Clippers, particularly with Jordan out and unable to play. Reed and Harrell just don’t have the same intimidation factor at the rim as the very active Jordan, despite giving the Clippers a lot of very good minutes in recent weeks.

FINAL THOUGHT: DOC – COACH OF THE YEAR?

Is it too early to be talking about Coach of the Year? Doc Rivers should be garnering serious recognition for this season. Doc, freed of his burdensome GM duties, has dealt quietly with a multitude of player injuries, and successfully utilized a number of creative lineups and rotations to create a top-eight team. Expect the creativity and success to continue.

PREDICTION

The Jazz are going to be sluggish and unable to keep up with the confident Clippers in this one.