The Los Angeles Clippers were only able to hold on to their home court advantage for a few days until the Utah Jazz decided to change the narrative with a 97-95 buzzer beater win at the Staples Center Saturday night.
The game started with a scary moment for the Jazz in the first 10 seconds, where defensive player of the year contender Rudy Gobert went down with a knee injury. Gobert went to set a screen for Gordon Hayward when he collides knees with the Clippers Luc Mbah a Moute and seemingly crumbles to the ground. At first glance it looks like a nasty injury considering he needed a considerable amount of help to get off the floor, but the MRI on Sunday reveals only a hyperextension of the knee and a bone bruise. This is a huge break for the Jazz, but could still mean that will have finish this series out without Gobert guarding the paint. This means Derrick Favors will definitely need to step and provide some great defense against one of the NBA’s best paint scoring teams. Regardless, Quin Snyder’s team still managed to not let the injury phase them and were able to edge the home team with a late 4th quarter lift and eventual buzzer beater by veteran Joe Johnson. Johnson in his post game interview speaking about having the ball in this hands at crunch time said “I’m very comfortable in those situations, that was one of the reasons that made them come after me this summer. I’m glad to be apart of this great young team”.
With the loss in Game 1, the Clippers end the 7 game win streak that got them the home court advantage in the first round. Blake Griffin and Chris Paul both put up some great numbers with 26 and 25 points respectively, and DeAndre Jordan put up a nice double-double, but past that the team had little help from anyone else. The poor shooting night overall was nearly saved with some late game heroics from Chris Paul, but ultimately it was the defense lapse that did the Clippers in. Mbah a Moute did a great job the whole game defending All Star scorer Gordon Hayward to under 40 percent shooting, Joe Johnson on the other hand dominated the floor going 9-14 from the field including 3-4 from downtown. It was clear Doc Rivers was frustrated in his post game press conference when a reporter asked why he didn’t let more time go off the clock before Chris Paul tied the game up with 13 seconds left. “If you miss the game is over, that’s the dumbest thing I’ve ever heard”. Ultimately the remaining time allowed Joe Johnson to put a make a floater in the lane, with no time left on the clock for the Clippers to answer.
This seems to be a trend when it comes to the Clippers in the post season and if Doc Rivers wants to get rid of the label of being an inconsistent team, he’s got to get his guys on the same page defensively if they want any chance at regaining control of this series. I still feel the Clippers can grab this series in 7 games, especially if Gobert misses more than one game, but the Jazz have the momentum going into Tuesday’s game two.
Stay locked into the Baseline Times for updates on the Gobert Injury as well as post game analysis after each matchup in these opening rounds of the 2017 NBA Playoffs.
Game two is Tuesday at the Staples Center. Tip-off on TNT 10:30 EST/7:30 PST
Baseline Times NBA Staff Writer