Game 2 has been kind to 5-seeds after winning road openers in the first round of the NBA playoffs. Can Utah build off their Game 1 upset win over the Clippers with star center Rudy Gobert out due to an injured left knee?
First, the good news for the Jazz: Rudy Gobert has no structural damage to his left knee. The frontrunner for Defensive Player of the Year was forced out of Utah’s 97-95 Game 1 victory over the Clippers after just 13 seconds in the first quarter with a hyperextension and bone bruise. The bad news is Gobert’s availability for the rest of the series is in doubt.
How much will Gobert be missed? Who knows. The Jazz grinded out the Game 1 win despite going off 6-point underdogs at some sportsbooks. It was just their third outright win getting points in L.A. since 2006. Gobert, a top five center, led the league in blocks and was second in double-doubles. Oddsmakers opened the Jazz 7-point pups for Game 2, early adjustments raising the number a half point in the Clip’s favor.
The difference in Game 1 came from the 3-point area. The Jazz shot 42.1 (8-for-19) from behind the arc with veteran Joe Johnson, who notched the victory with his eighth career game-winning buzzer-beater, sinking 3 of 4 shots. The Jazz put up 25.9 3-point attempts per game, but ranked in the top 10 in efficiency, making 37.2 percent for the year. They are 33-8 SU and 27-12-2 ATS when bettering their opponents from downtown. The Clippers, meanwhile, are 9-12 SU and 5-16 ATS when allowing foes to shoot 40 percent or better from the area. Look for Utah to go back to the area in Game 2.
The last seven teams to win Game 1 of a 4-5 series as a road dog are 6-1 ATS next time out. The lone blown cover missed by a half point. The Clip should make proper adjustments with Gobert missing, but Utah’s victory instilled a lot of confidence. Minus their best rim protector, look for L.A. to have a better night offensively. Utah will keep it competitive and drive the score up. Over 195.5 is the NBA pick.