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EMPTYING THE NOGGIN — The Clippers control Game 6

By David Locke, Utah Jazz

Summary:  The Clippers controlled Game 6 for the entire second half and forced a Game 7 with a 98-93 win over the Jazz.

  • The Jazz made a flurry late but this game wasn’t really that close until then. The Clippers led by three or more possessions for most of the second half in a slow-paced game. The Clippers — playing with their lives on the line — played inspired basketball and the Jazz have some very serious questions they need to answer. 
  • The Jazz’s number one weapon in the first part of the series was the lineup with Joe Johnson at the power forward. This lineup was negated in Game 5 with an offensive rating of just 93.5 and in Game 6, the Jazz were -18 with that lineup on the floor.
  • In the regular season, the Clippers only allowed Rodney Hood to get four catch-and-shoot shots in 30 attempts, but in the playoffs, they have allowed him to have at least 25 in six games. This either is because the Jazz are doing something dramatically different or because the Clippers have decided they are okay letting Rodney Hood shoot. Moreover, Rodney has not made a shot in the midrange all series, so when the Clippers run him off the line it hasn’t been productive.   
  • The Jazz have yet to come up with an answer to the Chris Paul pick-and-roll game and the reason is because he is the best point guard in the game since John Stockton or Magic Johnson. There may not be an answer for this. The Jazz have put a huge focus on cutting the head off the snake but the snake is awesome and it is not easy to do. Chris Paul scored 29 points and had 8 assists tonight. 
  • In a playoff series when things happen more than once, you have to begin to assume there is a reason. Joe Ingles has not scored it either of the last two games and is now shooting 32% in the series and below 30% from 3. The Clippers may have figured out how to take Ingles out of the offense. The other angle is that how Joe Ingles looks reminds me a bit of how he looked in the games after guarding LeBron James for 36 minutes in Cleveland. Guarding Chris Paul and JJ Redick is a big ask and his offense has been impacted. Quin Snyder pointed out earlier that JJ Redick’s defense is the amount he makes you work on offense.
  • The Clippers are allowing Rudy Gobert to catch the ball at 15 feet and forcing him to make plays from that spot at 15 feet. This is new for Rudy. 
  • Every series is about matchups and how teams can create answers to cover the weaknesses as the series continues. The Jazz don’t have an answer for the Clippers and the Clippers may have found an answer for the Jazz.
  • The key stretch of the game was in the first quarter when the Jazz were playing really well. The Clippers took Chris Paul out of the game and they were +6 when Chris Paul was on the bench.  They let CP3 rest for a long time and it showed in the end when he was still able to contribute.
  • The Jazz made a furious rally late. The Clippers led by 14 with 4:00 left and just about blew that when Chris Paul threw away back-to-back passes and Hayward hit a big 3. The Jazz had a shot when Joe Johnson missed a 3 over DeAndre Jordan that would have tied the game. It looked good but Joe Johnson proved to be human tonight.
  • The Jazz’s offensive rating in this game was 104. Here is what the series looks like for the Jazz offense:

Game 1: 105 offensive rating

Game 2: 102 offensive rating

Game 3: 121 offensive rating

Game 4: 119 offensive rating

Game 5: 105 offensive rating

Game 6: 104 offensive rating

  • Austin Rivers return has had a big impact on the series. Rivers is guarding Hayward and doing an okay job which is allowing Mbah a Moute to guard Joe Johnson. Maybe more importantly, by starting, Rivers took some of the ball handling duties from CP3 and relieved the pressure on him.
  • Hayward had 31 points, 7 rebounds and 4 assists on 9 of 20 shooting. 
  • George Hill was +7 in a 5-point loss and had 22 points in the game.
  • The Clippers got great supporting players performances: Rivers, 13 pts; Mbah a Moute, 13 points; Crawford, 12 points and Speights, 9 points. The Jazz didn’t get the same production from their role players, which is surprising because you usually get these at home. Ingles was scoreless, Johnson had 9 points, Hood had just 4 points, and Favors had 2.
  • The Clippers have done this before and it looked like it.
  • Game 7s are awesome. Let’s hope it is one to remember.