Clippers

Utah Jazz vs Los Angeles Clippers, Game 7: What to Watch for, Preview

Photo courtesy of @NBA_Skits Twitter

How wild and wonderful the NBA Playoffs can be.

The Los Angeles Clippers lost game 5 at home vs the Utah Jazz to go down 3-2 in their best-of-seven first round series, only to go on the road to grind out a 98-93 game 6 victory to force a decisive game 7. 

As Chris Paul said following the win, they like to keep “things interesting.”

“It’s just Chris,” head coach Doc Rivers said. “He is as competitive as a human being as I’ve ever been around. When you put that with the talent and the will, that’s why he has performances like this in big games. Chris was amazing. He just willed the game for us.”

Best Player on the Floor

Even with Blake Griffin out of the lineup, the Clippers have one thing going for them – Chris Paul as the best player on the floor.

He absolutely willed his team to a Game 6 win finishing with 29 points and eight assists on 50-plus percent shooting from the field.

Despite a fairly quiet fourth quarter, Paul set the tone offensively in the first half when the rest of the team looked out of rhythm.

Everyone remembers what Chris Paul did against the Spurs in a Game 7 at home – could it happen again?

Austin Rivers’ Impact

Doc put Austin Rivers in the starting lineup ahead of Game 6 and it clearly made an impact. A positive one. 

He was huge in the third quarter when the Clippers started to pull away, capping a 9-2 run with a step-back jumper from beyond the arc that pushed the lead up to 14 with less than four minutes remaining in the quarter.

What was most impressive about Rivers’ insertion into the starting lineup was the fact that the team finally made some mid-series adjustments that felt strategic. Marreese Speights started in Game 5, but that allowed Utah to use their traditional lineup and dominate the Clippers without Griffin.

Going small with Rivers was a genius move by Doc, allowing then for Speights to be used as a super sub to get the starters some rest later on.  

Game 7 X-Factor

In all but one game in this series, the team with more points in the paint has won. Keep this in mind as Game 7 tips off and each side works to put their stamp on the game.

The Clippers are No. 11 in the league in opponent points in the paint per game, holding teams to about 42.5 points in the paint. Over the last three, they’ve given up closer to an average of 45.

Utah is No. 8 in the league, holding teams to about 41 points per game in the paint; they’ve held the Clippers to under 34 points in the paint over the last three.

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Rohit Ghosh

LA Clippers beat writer
Rohit is an L.A.-based sports journalist who contributes to SB Nation's Silver Screen and Roll, AccuScore, and the Taxi Squad Show based out of Utah. He also runs his own sports blog, Metta Chronicles. Follow him on Twitter @RohitGhosh where he discusses AccuScore projection data, a variety of sports-related topics, and even some Jazz music.
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