Clippers vs. Jazz Odds, Preview, Prediction: How To Bet Game 1 in Utah (Tuesday, June 8)
Joe Murphy/NBAE via Getty Images. Pictured: Utah Jazz standouts Rudy Gobert, left, and Donovan Mitchell.
- The Utah Jazz host the Los Angeles Clippers on Tuesday in their NBA playoff series opener.
- Utah enters this match rested and ready, while Los Angeles is coming off a tough, seven-game series win over Dallas.
- Raheem Palmer breaks down Game 1 below and explains why he thinks the Jazz cover the spread.
Clippers vs. Jazz Odds
|Moneyline||+155 / -186|
|Time||10 p.m. ET|
The Utah Jazz were the best team in the NBA regular season, finishing with a 52-20 record. Although they dropped game 1 of their first-round playoff series, with the return of All-star Point guard Donovan Mitchell in the second game, they returned to their regular season dominance, cruising through their first round matchup against the Memphis Grizzlies in five games.
After a six day rest advantage, things get a lot tougher in round 2 against Kawhi Leonard, Paul George and the Los Angeles Clippers who are battle-tested after surviving a 7-game against Luka Doncic and Dallas Mavericks.
While the Clippers finished as the four seed in the Western Conference, this was last year’s favorite to win the NBA title so while the buzz around this team may not be the same, this is still a dangerous opponent to face.
Nonetheless, both of these teams come into this series hungry to prove their status as worthy contenders given their past playoff failures.
Ironically, this series features the two teams who come off blowing 3-1 leads in the Bubble to the Denver Nuggets. One of these teams will bounce back but the other will find themselves with an existential crisis after being eliminated prematurely for the second season in the row.
The Jazz are rightfully favored in this series, with oddsmakers having them as -130 favorite. They’re laying 3.5 points at home in Tuesday’s opener, with a total of 220 points.
So where’s the betting value for Game 1 of this series?
Clippers Enter Series Off Grueling, Seven-Game Triumph
After opening their first-round series against the Dallas Mavericks as -400 favorites, I’m not sure how many people saw the Los Angeles Clippers ending up in a seven-game series.
Not only that, Los Angeles fell in an 0-2 hole at home. The club then seized back home court by winning both games 3and 4, but lost game 5 and needed to win the final two of the series to advance.
Game 6 was a dog fight in which the Clippers overcame a seven-point, third-quarter deficit behind Kawhi Leonard’s 45-points on 72% shooting. He nearly outscored Dallas in the final 18 minutes of and was 5 for 5 from the field with 12 points in the fourth quarter.
The Clippers’ struggles with a fifth-seeded Mavericks isn’t particularly encouraging, but there are some signs they’re learning how to overcome the adversity. For starters, head coach Ty Lue has proven to be an upgrade over Doc Rivers given his ability to make adjustments when something isn’t working.
With Dallas star Luka Doncic dominating Patrick Beverley and Ivica Zubac, Lue adjusted by not playing them whenever Doncic was on the floor. When the Mavericks adjusted to the Clippers going small by playing two bigs in Boban Marjanović and Kristraps Porzingis, Lue found answers for that as well.
Despite struggling with a poor shooting variance with the Clippers missing wide-open threes and the Mavericks making a high percentage of theirs, they still found a way to fight their way back into the series. When the Clippers finally had their best game of the series in the finale, hitting 20 of 43 from beyond the arc, the Mavericks eventually had no answer for this team, which was the top 3-point shooting team in the league.
Overall, Los Angeles is a high variance team, which is highly dependent on 3-point variance. Leonard and Paul George aren’t offensive hubs the way Doncic, LeBron James and James Harden are for their respective teams.
And with no playmaking point guard that can consistently break down the defense and get their own shot, the offense gets bogged down, as this team is forced to create offense in isolation. The Clippers do have some advantages, as I don’t believe the Jazz have the wings to match up with Leonard and George.
An interesting chess match we’ll likely see is the Clippers attempting to play Jazz center Rudy Gobert off the floor, given their combination of wings in Leonard, George, Nic Batum, Marcus Morris and Terance Mann.
Take a look at this possession from a Clippers-Jazz game from the regular season. On this possession, Gobert is responsible for defending Beverley, gets out of position trying to help defend George in the paint and allows his man to get a wide-open 3-pointer.
Of course, the downside to this small-ball lineup are rim protection and rebounding, which is something Dallas was able to capitalize on in its first-round series. Serge Ibaka hasn’t been healthy for the second half of the season and has been ruled out of the opener 1 with back spasms, so this team is going to have a tough time inside.
Unlike the Marjanović, Gobert can actually move and is the defensive player of the year. Nonetheless, it will be interesting to see who blinks in this series.
Rested Jazz Looking to Continue Dominant Form
After blowing a 3-1 lead in the bubble, the Jazz responded with a vengeance. They had the best record in the regular season, ranking first in Net Rating (9.0) behind the league’s third-ranked Offensive Rating (118.8) and top-ranked Defensive Rating (107.5) in those categories.
Often times, teams that defy our regular-season expectations see a drop-off in the postseason, but that has been anything but the case. Utah’s offense was downright unstoppable in their opening series against the Grizzlies, scoring a whopping 123.4 points per 100 possessions.
If you remove their first game when they lost without Mitchell, scoring 109 points with an Offensive Rating of 113.4, the Jazz scored 126.4 points per 100 possessions in their final four games of the series, as they made there way toward a gentleman’s sweep.
Mitchell has been downright dominant in the postseason, averaging 28.5 points, 5.8 assists and three rebounds, while shooting 45% from the field and 40% from three, proving his performance in the bubble was far from a fluke. He’s now surrounded by shooting everywhere, so the threat of his shooting and slashing ability is something that will give the Clippers problems.
Similar to Los Angeles, Utah is highly dependent on 3-point shooting, as it takes an astounding 45.3% percent of their field-goal attempts behind the arc which is first among teams.
Mitchell, Bojan Bogdanović, Joe Ingles, Mike Conley, Georges Niang and Royce O’Neale are all shooting above average from deep, and with Jordan Clarkson coming off the bench, this team is tough to stop.
Unlike the Clippers, the Jazz don’t take a high percentage of mid-range shots, as they’re just 27th in shot frequency in the category, hitting at 25.7% compared to the Clippers, who are eighth at 33.5 percent. Of course in today’s NBA, that’s ideal unless you have guys like the Leonard or Kevin Durant.
Regardless, Gobert to protect the paint, so a Los Angeles team that’s highly dependent on jumpers will need to hit them. Gobert is also a big offensive threat for this team and given the Clippers struggles with Marjanović, they’ll have more issues. Gobert, who is averaging 17.4 points and 13 rebounds, should be a threat on lobs and put backs.
For all the advantages the Clippers have going small, the Jazz have many advantages of their own.
Neale will likely defend Leonard in this matchup, and he’s been able to do a solid job on that front. It will be interesting to see if Ingles can return to his role as the George stopper, as they’ll need it given the collection of wings on the Clippers have.
If there’s one thing that’s potentially troubling for the Jazz, it could be the absence of Mike Conley, who is questionable for the opener with a mild right hamstring strain which kept him out of Game 5 against the Grizzlies.
However after seeing Brooklyn guard James Harden leave Saturday’s game with his own hamstring issues, it’s tough to imagine Conley going in Game 1 or even the whole series without re-aggravating it. Needles to say, having another scorer and playmaker in Conley is key, as they have the quickness at guard along with him, Mitchell and Clarkson to give the Clippers issues.
This series is really interesting, given the advantages each team has against the other.
However, the Clippers are coming off a grueling seven-game series, while the Jazz are well rested after disposing of the Grizzlies in five games. This is an angle I’ve written about before and one I’ll play here. Teams that win Game 7 are 32-47 (40%) straight up in Game 1 of the following series.
Add in the altitude and the home-court advantage that the Jazz possess and I think they have the advantage here, particularly given that they’ll have to deal with the Gobert’s size and the quickness of Mitchell.
That said, I’ll lay the 3.5 points with the Jazz.
Pick: Utah -3.5