While you obviously need wins to advance, I think the loss being by only three points is a rather positive data point for the Clippers, who looked visibly worn out in the 2nd half and still stayed with the top seed until the final buzzer. But they’ll still need wins, and Game 2 is a great opportunity.
When: Thursday, June 10 at 7:00 p.m. PT
Where: Vivint Smart Home Arena, Salt Lake City, Utah
How to watch/listen: ESPN
Opposing perspective: SLC Dunk
Projected Starting Lineups
Clippers: Reggie Jackson, Paul George, Kawhi Leonard, Marcus Morris Sr., Ivica Zubac
Jazz: Jordan Clarkson, Royce O’Neale, Donovan Mitchell, Bojan Bogdanovic, Rudy Gobert
Clippers: Serge Ibaka (lower back) — OUT
Jazz: Mike Conley Jr. (right hamstring strain) — OUT
After the seven-game grind of the opening round series against the Dallas Mavericks, LA spent Tuesday’s Game 1 feeling out the Jazz, who dispatched with the Memphis Grizzlies in their first round series. On the “rest vs. rust” debate between the teams, there honestly wasn’t much separating them, with Utah going cold in the first quarter but battling back from there and the Clippers staying close but looking visibly tired by the end.
Perhaps some good news is that Kawhi Leonard had an uncharacteristically bad night in Game 1 by his superhuman standards, so one expects he can get better from there. Same for Paul George, who battled hard for his points but never really hit a rhythm anywhere except from the free throw line. If the two stars can step up and the supporting cast do their part, then they can rebound.
Of course, they’ll need to stop Donovan Mitchell, who took over Game 1 in the 2nd half and ended with 45 points. The Clippers did pretty well otherwise to neutralize the Jazz offense, but clearly they’ll need to tighten things up to prevent Mitchell from scoring at will again.
Every game in the playoffs is big, but any time you’re in a deficit in a series it’s even bigger. The Jazz are a terrific team, but on short rest the Clippers need to show why they belong on this stage and can make an even deeper run this season. That begins with Game 2 on Thursday.