The Los Angeles Clippers are on a mission, coming from two games down agains the Dallas Mavericks to win their opening-round series in commanding fashion, even staving off elimination along the way. LA’s defense has been sublime as of late, but that will certainly be put to the test against the Utah Jazz, one of the most efficient teams on both ends of the floor. With that said, this matchup should be nothing short of thrilling, and challenging from a betting perspective. There’s value to be found here and we’ll help you find it. Here’s where you should be looking when heading to the best online sportsbooks.
Los Angeles Clippers vs. Utah Jazz
Tuesday, June 08, 2021 – 10:00 PM EDT at Vivint Smart Home Arena
Kawhi Would You Panic?
With someone like Kawhi Leonard on the roster, was there ever a real need to panic for the Los Angeles Clippers? The Klaw was brilliant in that opening round series win over the Mavs, going for 32.1 points, 7.9 rebounds and 4.6 assists per game on a ridiculous 61.2% shooting from the field and 42.5% from three. He even managed to hit a playoff career high 45 points in a pivotal Game 6 win.
Leonard took 19.1 shots per game in those seven games, which represented a very high volume for him, particularly with a guy like Paul George on the team. With the way he was playing, could you blame him? By the numbers, that was one of Leonard’s best playoff series ever; the 32.1 points rank third among his 24 series, the 2.9 rebounds second and the 4.6 assists fourth. The 61.2% shooting? That matches his best mark in a postseason series ever.
Yet, despite all of this, the Clippers really struggled to get going against Dallas. The offense was there, scoring 119 points per 100 possessions, and many more in the opening two games, but the defense lagged behind. It was a combination of Dallas simply shooting at an unsustainable rate, the Mavs hitting everything they looked at and the Clippers coming out a bit lethaergic on that end.
There’s no time for Los Angeles to come out slowly against a Jazz team this good, but frankly when looking at the way the defense locked down, posting a 104.5 efficiency rating in the last four games of that series, perhaps a slow start isn’t a concern. With Leonard in the fold as well, there really aren’t too many reasons to worry about how this team will look. We'll see what's in store for us in the NBA tonight.
A Different Recipe
The Jazz rose to power in the West with some hard-nosed defense, but that has fallen by the wayside this summer. In their opening-round series win over the Grizzlies (which was rather convincing), Utah powered up on the offensive end to score a whopping 123.4 points per 100 possessions, but its defense was an afterthought, allowing 115 points per 100 possessions to a Memphis team that simply wasn’t that special on the offensive end.
It’s nitpicking to care about the Jazz defense in that series with the way they shot the ball, but it could be worth talking about entering a Clippers series where the margins could be very fine. The important thing to know about the Jazz here is that they look very similar to how they did in the middle of the season, when they were just bowling over the competition, and Donovan Mitchell is back to 100% health. On top of that, Jordan Clarkson has turned into an exceptional scorer and could have a real impact in this series.
I’m going to have to take the Clippers to cover in this one for my Tuesday sports betting. Utah has been great at home all year, and should win this game, however with margins this fine I’m not ready to call this a blowout by any means. This spread should be closer to two points with the shortcomings of that Jazz defense in the opening round, and the resurgence of Los Angeles in its opening-round triumph over the Mavericks. LA faced much tougher competition than Utah did, and there’s a great chance that shows in Game 1.
*The pick reflects the line at the moment the writer made the play, the odds at the beginning of this article show the live line movement. Since the lines might vary, don’t forget to refer back to our live odds.