The Utah Jazz were one of three road teams to steal Game 1 this past weekend in the first round of the 2017 NBA Playoffs. They have a chance to take a commanding 2-0 series lead Tuesday night when they face the Los Angeles Clippers in Game 2 at Staples Center.
Game 2 is scheduled for a 10:30 p.m. EDT start time on TNT. Fans who can’t get to a TV can watch the contest with a free live stream online at tntdrama.com.
Most experts picked the Clippers to win the series, even though both L.A. and Utah finished the regular season with identical 51-31 records. The Clippers are favored to win Game 2, and the betting line has gone up to nine points, via OddsShark. The over/under 198.5 points.
With the series featuring two teams that play very different styles, the Jazz beat the Clippers by forcing them to play their brand of basketball. Utah is one of just two NBA teams that holds their opponents under 100 points per game, and they defeated Los Angeles 97-95 when Joe Johnson made a shot at the buzzer.
Utah pulled off the Game 1 upset, despite losing center Rudy Gobert in the contest’s opening seconds. Gobert was arguably the NBA’s best center in the regular season, and he led all players with 2.64 blocks per game. A hyperextension and bone bruise in his left knee will keep him off the floor Tuesday night, and it’s unknown when he’ll be able to return.
For those who aren't aware just how good (and important) Rudy Gobert is, this is what the Jazz will have to replace.
No big deal. pic.twitter.com/95rBrSAtnp
— Rook Perez (@World_Wide_Wob) April 16, 2017
Utah Jazz center Rudy Gobert goes up for a shot against San Antonio Spurs guard Danny Green during the first quarter at Vivint Smart Home Arena in Salt Lake City on April 12, 2017. Photo: Reuters/Russ Isabella-USA TODAY Sports
Without Gobert, the Jazz will rely heavily on Derrick Favors. The backup big man averaged less than 24 minutes per game in the regular season, but he scored 15 points in 32 minutes Saturday night.
The Clippers’ “Big 3” of Chris Paul, Blake Griffin and DeAndre Jordan will look to take advantage of Gobert’s absence. Paul came three rebounds shy of a triple-double in Game 1 and Griffin led the team with 26 points, though he missed 12 of his 21 shot attempts.
It will be difficult for the Jazz to repeat Saturday’s performance without maybe their most important player. Los Angeles defeated Utah in three out of four head-to-head regular-season meetings, and all three of the Clippers’ victories came by at least 13 points.
Prior to Game 1, the Clippers were 32-8 when both Griffin and Paul played. The Jazz lost the only game in which Gobert sat out. L.A. was 29-12 at home, and Utah was just three games over .500 on the road.
Prediction: Los Angeles over Utah, 103-90
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