Jazz Look To Get Conley Back For Game 2 Clash
Although the Jazz were ultimately able to survive 112-109 thanks to Rudy Gobert blocking Marcus Morris Sr.’s game-tying 3-point shot attempt from the corner, they flirted with immediately coughing up homecourt advantage throughout Tuesday evening. Earned due to the NBA’s best record over the truncated 72-game regular-season, Utah will open every series at home for as long as it survives in this postseason, and that edge also means any Game 7’s will also be played in Salt Lake City.
It became apparent how vital that may be considering what a difference a crowd over 18,000 people made in helping their team rally from a 13-point halftime deficit. Donovan Mitchell and his 45 points provided the fuel to get them going, but it looked like it was going to be a bleak night for the faithful early on as L.A. built a 51-37 lead with 4:30 to go in the opening half. The Clippers went on a 22-2 run in the opening quarter and had their chances to steal the game late. Coming off a grueling 7-game series win, losing Game 1 will ultimately go down as a missed opportunity.
Morris actually got Gobert up in the air with 3.9 seconds remaining and could’ve drawn a 3-shot foul on the 7-foot-2 Frenchman that would’ve disqualified him with his sixth foul. He would’ve gotten to the line for three attempts to even things up, and was an 82 percent free-throw shooter this past season. Instead of aggressively taking advantage, he attempted to reload and gave Gobert time to land and ultimately swat his shot.
Going up 1-0 with Mike Conley Jr. resting a troublesome hamstring injury was an enormous accomplishment for the Jazz, who badly missed their point guard’s ability to create and get everyone involved. Having not played since wrapping up a first-round series conquest of the Memphis Grizzlies on June 2, Utah looked extremely rusty. Beyond their early shooting struggles, defensive breakdowns allowed Clips’ sniper Luke Kennard and point guards Reggie Jackson and Rajon Rondo open looks from beyond the arc that they were able to take full advantage of.
While Conley isn’t a lock to play in Thursday’s Game 2, the plan is to continue getting him treatment and fingers are crossed throughout the organization that he’ll be able to return from what was termed a “mild” hamstring strain in Game 5 of that Grizzlies series. Conley had a 27-point game in which he shot 7-for-10 from 3-point range in that series and was named an All-Star for the first time this season. He’s missed time here and there since injuring his hamstring on Feb. 5 but has been able to contribute when out there and not sitting due to maintenance. The goal was to have him healthy for this time of year, so Utah is really hopeful to have him back in the mix to take pressure off Mitchell.
Full Clippers Jazz Odds At Online Sportsbooks
Clippers Hope For Consistency As They Seek Split In SLC
Kawhi Leonard picked up where he left off against the Mavericks by serving as L.A.’s go-to guy and finished 9-for-19 from the field. He did only make one of four 3-point attempts and did miss shots in the fourth quarter, something he remarkably didn’t do in any of his team’s four victories over Dallas. He can play better.
Paul George pulled the Clippers within three thanks to a clutch 3-pointer with 38.4 seconds left but otherwise had a miserable evening. He took more shots than any player except Leonard but shot just 4-for-17. Morris was similarly wasteful, finishing 4-for-14 from the field despite getting the expected amount of open looks due to the Jazz defense funneling the ball his way by locking in on Leonard and George. He missed eight of nine 3-point attempts. Combined, Leonard, George and Morris shot 5-for-21 from beyond the arc. In Game 7 against Dallas, the trio combined to shoot 10-for-20, bolstered by Morris’ 7-for-9 showing.
From that standpoint, given that this is a make-or-miss league, L.A. has to feel like it can attain a desired split in Salt Lake City by simply executing better. Reggie Jackson, who was an x-factor in getting past the Mavs by scoring an average of 18.2 points per game after joining the starting lineup for Game 3, was riddled with foul trouble and scored only nine. He was ultimately disqualified in the fourth quarter after playing barely 17 minutes.
While the Clippers won’t be able to count on Kennard scoring 18 points off the bench, they did get some energy from Demarcus Cousins in his first postseason action (6 points, 3 rebounds in 3:59) and have Ivica Zubac available to help combat the size of Gobert and Favors. Lue used 11 players to help guys get their feet wet in the series and does have some answers on his roster to help hang with the Jazz even if Conley does return.
Although L.A. isn’t as rested as Utah, the majority of the roster is healthy and a strong film session should help them prepare for Game 2. The Clippers closed as a 3-point underdog on Tuesday at BetRivers and most other books, so the final margin resulted in a push unless you got in prior to Conley being ruled out, when the number was in the 3.5-to-4.5-point range.
The Game 1 total opened at 219.5 at FanDuel and was available at 221.5 at William Hill and DraftKings and 221 at Westgate. The number fluctuated throughout the day at all the various sportsbooks but ultimately closed at 221.5, which means the ‘under’ narrowly hung on for late bettors. If you got in at 220 or 220.5 earlier in the day, your outcome might have been different and ‘over’ bets prevail.
Conley’s availability should affect the numbers for Game 3 too. Expect Utah to be favored by anywhere from 3-to-4 points and the total to be boosted up a little to the 222-point range given the high volume of 3-pointers that were attempted in Game 1. From a player prop standpoint, Morris’ expected scoring output was set at 12.5 by both FanDuel and DraftKings. Since he came up so short down the stretch in Game 1 and shot it so poorly despite 14 attempts, he might be a strong bounce-back candidate if the number is similar. Morris scored 23 points in Sunday’s clincher but managed only nine points in Game 1. I’d back him to reach the teens in Thursday’s Game 2.