The questions on Recreation 4 had been determined by halftime.
However the questions on Recreation 5 and the remainder of this now-tied second-round collection begin off the courtroom — the situation of Kawhi Leonard‘s knee and Mike Conley‘s hamstring will go a good distance in figuring out which staff advances to face Phoenix.
The Clippers and Jazz at the moment are tied 2-2 after the Clippers ran away early and held off the Jazz late for a 118-104 win behind 62 mixed factors from Leonard and Paul George. Game 5 is Wednesday night in Utah.
Because it appears with each playoff collection this season, the well being of key gamers — All-Stars on each groups — will play a big function in the place this collection now goes.
Leonard sat the ultimate 4:35 of Recreation 4 that was not but determined, when all the opposite Clippers had been on the ground. His proper knee — a continual difficulty that results in his load administration throughout the season — gave the impression to be at difficulty late within the sport, though his knee was not iced and no coach labored with him whereas he sat on the bench these last minutes. Will his knee influence him in Recreation 5?
“It’s good. Subsequent query,” Leonard mentioned postgame.
Conley missed his fourth straight sport because of the hamstring he strained in Recreation 5 of the Jazz’s first-round victory over the Grizzlies. For the second straight sport, the Jazz missed his steadying affect on the courtroom when issues went dangerous, and so they missed him as a secondary shot creator within the pick-and-roll. With out Conley, the Clippers have been capable of load up on Donovan Mitchell and make his life tougher. With out Conley, it’s a lot tougher to think about the Jazz successful the collection now that the Clippers are taking part in their finest basketball.
We noticed that model of the Clippers — the “this staff might win the title” model of the Clippers — within the first half.
They had been hitting their threes — 11-of-22 within the 24 minutes — and getting these pictures by driving into the paint and kicking out. They had been taking part in small ball however getting offensive rebounds. Defensively they made sensible switches and lower off lob passes into Rudy Gobert. It was a masterclass efficiency.
Plus, Leonard was doing this.
KAWHI. OH MY GOODNESS. 🤯 pic.twitter.com/PLmbCmtmaY
— NBA on TNT (@NBAonTNT) June 15, 2021
Then again, Utah acquired away from its move-the-ball and put the opposite staff within the blender offense that earned them the most effective file within the NBA this season. It was one move than an isolation play for an excessive amount of of the primary half. The Clippers didn’t do something particular on protection, it was typical pick-and-roll coverages (though executed with a non-conventional lineup), however their rotations had been sharp and the Jazz had no solutions with out Mike Conley on the courtroom (lacking his fourth straight sport this collection with a hamstring pressure).
Donovan Mitchell did his finest, he scored 17 within the second quarter, however the Clippers had been firing on all cylinders and up 24 on the half. He completed the sport with 37 factors on 9-of-26 capturing.
Within the second half the Jazz moved the ball, hit threes, and acquired again to being extra like themselves, and so they gained the second half by 10 factors. They may by no means get out of the opening they dug within the first half.
“The best way we performed within the second half, that’s who’re, that’s what we do,” Mitchell mentioned. “That second half, we have to take that residence and play with that very same power.”
It’s truthful to count on a unique power in Recreation 5. It’s additionally truthful to marvel if the robust second half efficiency by the Jazz was about their play or as a result of the Clippers acquired comfy and took their foot off the fuel. These questions will likely be answered on Wednesday.
Nonetheless, the larger questions are which stars will likely be taking part in, and the way wholesome will they be?