Continuing with our theme of NBA playoff previews I’ll be taking a look at the upcoming 4 vs. 5 seed matchup out West. We will take a peek at both teams and then I’ll give a prediction.
Welcome to the show, Utah. The Jazz really took off this season (as many predicted) behind their star wing Gordon Hayward, the stifle tower and one of the leagues finest defenders Rudy Gobert, and a host of solid role players who had solid seasons like veterans George Hill and Joe Johnson. This Jazz team is far from spectacular, but as their defeat of the Golden State Warriors just a week ago proved, they are dangerous. With one of the leagues stingiest defenses and a fairly deep team, the Jazz are not what you want to see in a physical 7 game series. Their home court should be rocking, and their mix of fresh faces and veterans should bring a nice combination of experience+energy to the series. They are the great unknown out West truthfully, their style makes them one of the only teams the Warriors really need to fear this summer, as 7 games of Rudy Gobert at the rim and a slowed pace is exactly what the Dubs don’t need. If Derrick Favors and Rodney Hood are healthy and Hayward has a coming out party on the eve of his Free Agency this team really does have bubble burster written all over it. However, they also are a bit offensively challenged at times, and Gordon Hayward and a defense first center aren’t exactly the LeBron+Kyrie duo that usually dominates in the playoffs. The Jazz’s slower pace could ultimately do them in. Let’s hope they get by the Clippers because that Warriors+Jazz matchup will be much more intriguing that Clips-Dubs part 500.
Los Angeles Clippers
You know who they are by now. I could go on and on about how Chris Paul and DeAndre Jordan are truly one of the elite duo’s in the game, and how Paul is one of the NBA’s greatest guards to never sniff a conference tittle. Yes, we deserve to see Chris Paul in the NBA finals going to war. No, we aren’t going to see it with this Clippers team. They are who they are, and that’s fine, but the ceiling is this round. The core 4 of Paul, Jordan, Blake Griffin and J.J Reddick is solid, and Jamal Crawford is one of the NBA’s greatest scorers, but we’ve seen this movie before and it’s going to down the same road this year. This team simply can not overcome the Warriors, their stars aren’t bright enough, and their bench is never deep enough. So yes, this paragraph is pretty pessimistic, and yes they might very well beat the Jazz, but it just doesn’t really matter. Root for the Jazz, because at least their series vs. the Warriors will be fresh and interesting. The Clippers are dead, and I hope they make some moves this summer, because it just ain’t happening for this crew.
Clippers in 7
I want the Jazz, I really do, but it’s not happening this year. Maybe a leap forward from Hayward, Trey Lyes, or Dante Exum gets it done next year, but they need some more firepower. Relying on Joe Johnson late game vs. CP3 just won’t get it done. Clippers in 7 in one of the tighter series of this post-season.