Since the Clippers fell down 2-0 to the Jazz on Thursday, several people have asked me if I plan to bet on the Clippers coming back in this series as I did last round. I admittedly considered it. There's still no telling how much Utah will be able to get out of Mike Conley this series, and Donovan Mitchell didn't look nearly as explosive late in the game after seemingly tweaking his right ankle, which kept him out for the last month of the season.
The numbers suggest that the Clippers shouldn't be down 2-0 in this series. As Simon Gerzberg laid out, the Clippers are getting significantly better shots in this series than the Jazz have. They just aren't making their good shots while the Jazz are making their bad ones. This is largely what happened to the Clippers in the Mavericks series. Eventually, Dallas regressed.
But the Jazz are much, much better than the Mavericks, and Conley theoretically offers a major boost to the quality of shots Utah should get. More to the point, even if both sides regress to the mean, it can't be overstated how important these first two wins were for the Jazz. They're halfway home. The Clippers have to win four games out of five to win the series. The Jazz only need to shoot above their heads two more times to win this thing.
I see the logic for betting on the Clippers right now, if you want to do so. We haven't seen Kawhi Leonard go nuclear yet. Mitchell even being slightly slower changes Utah's entire offensive calculus. The Clippers have three home games left, and still only need to win one in Salt Lake. We just saw the Clippers win a series under these same circumstances.
But plus-350 just isn't enough for me to overlook how good the Jazz have been all season, how hard Rudy Gobert has made it for the Clippers to get good looks near the rim and how beholden to shooting variance the Clippers are even when things are going well. I think they could win this series. I'm just not putting my money where my mouth is this time. Now, onto Game 3.
All lines via William Hill Sportsbook
Los Angeles Clippers vs. Utah Jazz
I'm going to continue riding the over here until Vegas adjusts the line. Game 1 got to 221 total points despite horrific shooting from Paul George and the entire Jazz roster in the first half. Game 2 got to 228 even after the Clippers stifled the the Jazz in the second half with their zone defense. That adjustment is never as effective the second time around, and the Clippers continue missing shots that they made all season long. Keep trusting the offense in this series. The pick: Over 223.5
Donovan Mitchell has been spectacular all series long, but with Mike Conley potential returning and his ankle potentially bothering him, this line just feels a bit high for my tastes. More likely, the Clippers refocus their game-plan around stopping him in pick-and-roll even if it means surrendering some open 3's or rolls to the basket. The Jazz will get their points, but Mitchell's individual numbers should fall down to Earth a little bit. The pick: Mitchell Under 31.5 points
The Clippers have tried playing big and they've tried playing small in this series. Playing small has been more effective on balance, so I'd expect them to return to Nic Batum at center. That decision has tangible benefits on both sides of the ball, but it's not going to help the Clippers on the glass at all, so let's project a heavy rebounding day for Rudy Gobert, who had 20 boards in Game 2. The pick: Gobert over 13.5 rebounds