This Friday the Los Angeles Clippers try to advance to the Western Conference Finals when they host the Utah Jazz in Game 6 of their best-of-seven second round series. The main storyline as these two teams headed back to Utah for Game 5 was the news that Kawhi Leonard (plus-8.1 Offensive Box Plus/Minus in the playoffs) could miss the rest of the series for the Clippers. Leonard suffered a sprained knee late on Monday’s 118-104 Game 4 victory.
And for Utah, Donovan Mitchell hasn’t been the same after he tweaked his ankle during Game 3. Not many people noticed, as he had 30 points that day and another 37 in Game 4, but these were much less efficient performances (11-for-24 and 9-for-26, respectively) than what he delivered in Games 1 and 2. He regressed even more in Game 5, scoring just 21 points on 6-for-19 from the field and 4-for-14 from 3-point range.
Volume scoring is the name of the game. The Jazz finished the regular season with the best record in the league at 52-20 SU (41-31 ATS), and Mitchell was a big part of their success – but not as big as Mike Conley (plus-7.1 Offensive Box Plus/Minus in the playoffs). Now that Conley has been sidelined with a tender right hamstring, the Jazz are leaning heavily on Mitchell against the Clippers and he has to step up in Game 6, which will take place on Friday at 10:00 PM ET at STAPLES Center in Los Angeles.
Team to Win (Regular Time)
• Utah Jazz: 1.78
• Los Angeles Clippers: 2.13
• Utah Jazz: -2.5 (1.94)
• Los Angeles Clippers: +2.5 (1.87)
• Over 219.5 (1.88)
• Under 219.5 (1.94)
Key Points to Consider
Paul George has to be a volume scorer with constant aggression. The way he played on Wednesday is how he’s at his best and how the whole defense and noise is silenced. He has to turn heel, become the villain. When a smooth/polished talent like PG-13 is in attack mode, it puts the defense in a fearful position. George has the talent level of Devin Booker and Jayson Tatum and at one point he was going head-to-head with LeBron and KD. He reminded the Jazz this with his aggression in Game 5, leading the Clippers with 37 points, 16 rebounds and five assists on 12-for-22 from the field and 3-of-9 from beyond the arc, carrying the team in Leonard’s absence.
Marcus Morris and Reggie Jackson also had monster games, combining for 47 points on 6 of 12 from distance and Terance Mann was another difference-maker, he replaced Leonard in the starting lineup and finished with 13 points in 26 minutes, including key baskets.
We still don’t have any updates on Mike Conley’s status at press time, but if he does manage to play Friday, he won’t be at 100 percent. Let’s make it a small bet, we’ll recommend the Over.
The Over is 7-1 in Utah’s last eight games as a favorite, 8-2 in Utah’s last 10 overall and 4-1 in Los Angeles’ last five playoff games as an underdog.
For the Jazz, Donovan Mitchell is projected to finish with 28.0 points, 5.2 assists and 4.4 rebounds, making 9.9 field goals in 21.8 attempts.
For the Clippers, Paul George is expected to score 25.5 points with 10.3 rebounds and 6.7 assists, making 8.3 field goals in 19.1 attempts.
Three-star (out of four) AccuScore hot trend pick on the Over in this one. Average score in simulations is Utah Jazz 115.2 to Los Angeles Clippers 108.8.