NBA Odds, Betting Preview, Prediction for Jazz vs. Clippers Game 3: Can Kawhi, LA Win at Home? (Saturday, June 12)
Alex Goodlett/Getty Images. Pictured: Paul George.
- Los Angeles hosts Utah for the lone NBA game of the day in Game 3 of their Western Conference series.
- The Clippers have come back from an 0-2 hole before, but the Jazz are a more complete team than the Mavericks.
- Raheem Palmer explains below how he's backing the Clippers on Saturday.
|Time||8:30 p.m. ET|
Is there trouble in paradise?
For the second consecutive playoff series, the Los Angeles Clippers find themselves facing an 0-2 deficit after their 117-111 loss in Game 2 on Thursday night. This time they’ll have the advantage of the home crowd behind them as they return home to the Staples Center for Games 3 and 4.
Unfortunately history doesn’t favor the Clippers, as no team has overcome multiple 0-2 deficits in the same postseason. If there’s any team who is capable, it’s a team with a two-time NBA Finals MVP in Kawhi Leonard, along with Tyron Lue who coached the 2016 Cleveland Cavaliers when they came back from a 3-1 deficit against the the 73-9 Golden State Warriors.
Nonetheless, oddsmakers have installed the Clippers as 4.5-point home favorites with a total of 223.5 against the Jazz in Game 3 as they look to fight their way back into this series.
As we’ve seen throughout the playoffs the past few seasons, there is a tax for backing the Clippers in the first quarter and first half as teams who are down 0-2 have historically responded favorably to the desperation of facing elimination.
That said, it’s not alarming to see the Clippers laying 4.5 points for the full game while laying 2.5 points for the first quarter and four points for the first half.
So where is the betting value for this pivotal Game 3? Let’s analyze both sides and find out!
Mitchell Is In Elite Company For Jazz
The Utah Jazz have been a well-oiled machine all season long, and it’s carried over to the postseason where they’re third in Offensive Rating among playoff teams, scoring 123.2 points per 100 possessions in their non garbage time minutes according to Cleaning the Glass.
Unlike teams like the 2015 Atlanta Hawks, the 2018 Toronto Raptors or the Milwaukee Bucks of the last three seasons, this team is removing any doubt that they aren’t just regular-season warriors and are actually championship contenders. It isn’t lost on me that two of those teams are coached by current Bucks head coach Mike Budenholzer, so although that may play a role in these teams’ playoff failures, what’s glaring is that those teams lacked a true superstar who can score efficiently against tough playoff defenses and create plays for others while completely bending the game towards his will.
Although he doesn’t get the press of the Clippers’ Kawhi Leonard, the Utah Jazz have an emerging superstar talent in Donovan Mitchell, and he’s arguably been the best player in this series. Mitchell is essentially the second coming of Dwyane Wade, except he is just as lethal shooting from the perimeter as he is slashing and driving to the paint.
Throughout this series he’s averaging 41 points while shooting 52.5% from the field and 44.4% from behind the arc, while dishing 4.5 assists and grabbing three rebounds. He’s also one of the best playoff performers of all time, averaging 28.4 points per game in 29 career playoff games, which is only eclipsed by Michael Jordan, Allen Iverson, Kevin Durant, Jerry West and LeBron James.
Given the way Mitchell has been playing, the Jazz haven’t skipped a beat, even with the absence of All-Star point guard Mike Conley who has been out with a right hamstring strain. Even as the Jazz missed 20 consecutive shots in Game 1 or struggled offensively with the zone that Tyron Lue and the Clippers threw at them in Game 2, the Jazz responded favorably to every card they’ve been dealt. With Mitchell tweaking his ankle and suffering from fatigue down the stretch of Game 2, it didn’t matter.
This team has enough talent to overwhelm the many of the league’s best teams. The current Defensive Player of the Year in Rudy Gobert has made his presence felt on both ends of the floor, scoring 13 points and grabbing 20 rebounds while also providing rim protection.
Given his size and physicality, the Clippers haven’t found an optimal solution for who to play at center, and the small-ball units simply haven’t created enough of an advantage to for the Clippers.
Joe Ingles scored 19 points on 7-of-10 shooting, and Royce O’Neale also scored double digits, even with him being one of the primary defenders of Leonard in this series.
The Sixth man of the Year in Jordan Clarkson came up big, scoring 24 points off the bench while hitting timely baskets in the second half. Bojan Bogdanovic added 16 points on 5-of-8 shooting while also making the go-ahead three-pointer to give the Jazz a 104-101 lead with 5:46 to go.
The Jazz have hit some speed bumps through this series, but thus far they’ve been able to overcome everything in their path. If they can do so for just two more games, they’ll be hosting the Western Conference Finals.
Do The Clippers Have Another Level?
The Los Angeles Clippers find themselves in a familiar position, down 0-2 in the postseason. Unfortunately they received some unfavorable news as forward Serge Ibaka will miss the rest of the postseason after opting to receive season-ending back surgery.
Ibaka started 39 games for the Clippers, averaging 11.1 points, 6.7 rebounds and 1.1 blocks and missed 30 straight games after suffering a back injury on March 15. While those numbers were the lowest of his career, he was signed to be the replacement for Montrezl Harrell who couldn’t defend or stretch the floor.
More importantly, Ibaka not being around points to a major problem on this team as he could have provided a solution for many of the Clippers’ issues in this series, most notably a lack of bigs.
Ivica Zubac and DeMarcus Cousins have struggled with defending Donovan Mitchell in space and protecting the rim. For the second consecutive series, they’re facing a dynamic scoring threat who is surrounded by shooting threats everywhere, and the Clippers simply haven’t been able to consistently get stops.
The Clippers will need to pick up Mitchell further up the court but without mobile bigs, this is problematic There just aren’t many viable answers on this roster, and while the Clippers could go small with Marcus Morris at the 5, they’d be giving up a lot of size, and he has struggled shooting from three.
Still, the Clippers have a ton of talent. and they show that they’re a viable contender even in losses. They erased a 21-point, third-quarter deficit with a 46-23 run in which they opted to play a zone defense.
Although the Jazz will beat the zone in the long run with their shooters, throwing off players’ rhythm can be favorable for a quarter or a half before players adjust. You have to wonder if maybe the Clippers played this card too soon. The Clippers still haven’t played Kawhi Leonard on Mitchell for large parts of this series, so that’s a card could be played as well.
It’s pretty clear, the Clippers will have to win this series offensively, and Game 2 was particularly rough for a team that was first in three-point shooting percentage this season at 41.8%. The Clippers were just 11-of-30 (36.7%) from behind the arc.
The Clippers are getting quality looks, but as always, it’s a make or miss league, and I can’t help but think that their looks will fall as the series moves to Staples Center. As a I mentioned earlier, Morris is struggling from behind the arc, but Paul George isn’t shooting the ball well either as he’s just 5-of-14 from behind the arc in this series.
What George is doing well, however, is attacking the basket, putting pressure on the defense even when Gobert is in the paint. He’s gone to the line 19 times in this series which is more than another player, including Utah’s Donovan Mitchell and Rudy Gobert.
For a team without a true point guard to create plays and set teammates up, you could argue that George has been playing some of his best playoff basketball in years despite his shooting woes as he’s been consistently aggressive.
Nonetheless, the combination of George and Leonard is still something that has to be respected as the Jazz really have no viable answers for either. Leonard has been solid, scoring 22 points on 47.2% shooting in this series but he really hasn’t had a signature game yet … and we all know one is coming.
Which Clippers role players step up will be key against this Jazz team that has multiple guys who can score. Reggie Jackson was that guy on Thursday night, leading the comeback with 29 points on 11-of-19 shooting (57.9%).
Coming home down 0-2, the margin for error is slim, and they’re going to need more from everyone. Based on what we’ve seen from the Clippers in the first-round series against the Mavericks, I think we’ll get it, but will it be enough?
Despite being one of the most profitable angles in past years, I haven’t played the teams down 0-2 in the first quarter and first half the entire postseason. I’m a believer in that you can’t use the same tools for another job. Sometimes you need a hammer and some nails, other times you might need the chain saw. I’ve written about how teams down 0-2 perform when going home, here, so you can check that out.
As far as this year, there have only been two instances of teams that were down 0-2 playing in home games: the Miami Heat in their first round series against the Milwaukee Bucks and the Milwaukee Bucks in the Eastern Conference Semifinals against the Brooklyn Nets.
The Heat covered neither the first quarter or first half, while the Bucks covered the first quarter but failed to cover the 3.5-point spread oddsmakers had for the half.
Nevertheless, this is the perfect situation to break out that trend. The Clippers are still one of the most talented teams in the league with Kawhi Leonard and Paul George. They’ve haven’t been shooting up to their standards, which should improve at home, but also the Clippers have opened each of the last two games giving up 10-2 runs to start the game. That won’t happen here. Look for the Clippers to respond in a big way to open the game. Back them in the first quarter and first half.
Pick: Los Angeles Clippers 1Q -2.5 (-110) | Los Angeles Clippers 1H -3.5 (-110)