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Clippers vs. Jazz Game 5 preview and game thread: Biggest test of season for LA

The series is tied, but the Clippers will be without their best player

2021 NBA Playoffs - Utah Jazz v Los Angeles Clippers Photo by Juan Ocampo/NBAE via Getty Images

There’s good news and really, really, really bad news. Let’s start with the good news. Well, the Clippers won both games at home and now it is an even series, becoming a best-of-three series. The bad news is that the Clippers will be without Kawhi Leonard tonight, and potentially for the remainder of the series.

Game Information

When: Wednesday, June 16 7 p.m. PT

Where: Vivint Smart Home Arena, Salt Lake City, Utah

How to watch/listen: TNT

Opposing perspective: SLC Dunk

Projected Starting Lineups

Clippers: Reggie Jackson, Paul George, Luke Kennard, Marcus Morris Sr., Ivica Zubac

Jazz: Royce O’Neale, Donovan Mitchell, Bojan Bogdanovic, Rudy Gobert, Joe Ingles


Clippers: Serge Ibaka (lower back), Kawhi Leonard (right knee) — OUT

Jazz: Mike Conley Jr. (right hamstring strain) — OUT

Well, this sucks.

After coming back from a 2-0 deficit, the Clippers will be without their best player. For more info on Leonard’s injury and we can expect him to potentially return, read our article for all the information.

Meanwhile, there’s a game to be played tonight... and a very important one at that. This now has become a three-game series, needing two wins to advance to the Western Conference Finals. The Clippers are two wins away, but boy is it going to take a lot for them to make franchise history.

Leonard has been fantastic for LA this postseason so far. He’s averaging 30.4 points, 7.7 rebounds, 4.4 assists and 2.1 steals a game. That’s freaking crazy. The Clippers will deeply miss Leonard in their lineup, but this gives other players a chance to step up.

Let’s start with Paul George. Boy, oh boy. All eyes will be on him tonight. With his superstar teammate out, everyone will be expecting George to play like the superstar we all know he’s capable of playing like. During the playoff run, George is averaging 24.9 points, 8.6 rebounds and 5.2 assists per game. I don’t know about you, but those look like superstar numbers to me.

However, George is going to have to be even better than that tonight. He’ll have to take control of the game and be the main scorer for the Clippers. George will also likely have to distribute the ball more to open guys. It’s a lot to ask of him, but he’s more than capable.

The Clippers will also need more contributions from their role players. It’s not asking for a lot, as they’ve been great all postseason. Marcus Morris Sr. is coming off a 24-point performance and Luke Kennard has scored as many as 18 points in a game this series. The Clips will need buckets from both those guys and will likely need at least 15 from at least one.

Meanwhile there’s Reggie Jackson, who has been unreal for LA this postseason. In 11 games, he’s averaging 15.2 points while shooting better than 44 percent from deep. He’s been fantastic over the last few weeks, and the Clips will need him to be fantastic tonight.

The Clippers can only win this series if they win a game in Utah. Including the postseason, they’ve lost seven in a row in Utah. However, they could shock the world and win tonight. Like I said in a previous game thread, the Clippers could have won either one or two of the first games of this series. They had a 13-point lead at the half in Game 1 and had a lead late in Game 2. They’ve shown they can win in Salt Lake City.

Winning this series is going to take a lot. It’s going to be tough. But this Clippers team is damn good. They can win a game on the road and at home. I know they can. Wish for the best for a speedy recovery from Leonard... and let’s go win this damn series.

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