The Utah Jazz have won each of their last 8 games, and currently have the fourth-best offense and second-best defense in the NBA. Donovan Mitchell has consistently produced all-star caliber numbers. Jordan Clarkson is averaging 18.2 points, 4.1 rebounds, and 2.1 assists per game, and is the frontrunner for the NBA Sixth Man of the Year award.
The LA Clippers, on the other hand, have relied on Kawhi Leonard’s dominance and Lou Williams' scoring form in recent games. Paul George is expected to sit out again.
They have multiple injury concerns but are currently on a 4-game unbeaten run as they come up against the surprise Western Conference leaders.
Utah Jazz vs LA Clippers: 3 key matchups to look out for
Utah Jazz are largely injury-free, and their squad depth has been instrumental to their run of form. Donovan Mitchell has been producing 24.1 points and 5.1 assists while being defensively useful. Jordan Clarkson too has been in prolific touch off the bench.
Mike Conley is expected to come back soon but will sit out the match against the LA Clippers.
The Clippers are dealing with the loss of Paul George and Nicolas Batum, although Kawhi Leonard is expected to return after a 3-match hiatus. He has been listed as questionable for the game.
Let's take a look at the 3 key matchups that should prove crucial to the outcome of this game.
#1 Donovan Mitchell vs Patrick Beverley
Patrick Beverley’s energy and aggression have been a huge boost for the LA Clippers, something that has been apparent in their recent form. His defensive astuteness will be put to the test against an offensively efficient Utah Jazz side that has multiple offensive threats.
With Paul George sitting out, Beverley might have to contribute offensively as well. He has been eased into the starting 5 by coach Tyronn Lue and will have an important role to play on Wednesday.
Donovan Mitchell has been the best player in the Utah Jazz roster and has delivered consistently in the 2020-21 NBA season thus far. He has shown marked improvement in his passing and awareness since last season and will be expected to help his side to their 9th consecutive NBA victory.
#2 Bogdan Bogdanovic vs Kawhi Leonard
Kawhi Leonard is expected to feature after a 3-match hiatus, although he has been listed as doubtful. In the absence of Paul George, Leonard has been the offensive mainstay of the LA Clippers side and has benefitted from Lou William’s scoring touch.
Leonard has been producing 26.7 points, 5 assists and 5.9 rebounds per game. He has shown stubborn defense as well, with 1.8 steals per game. Leonard comes up against Bogdan Bogdanovic, who is himself in brilliant form for the Utah Jazz.
The Utah Jazz have multiple offensive threats, with Bogdanovic producing 15.6 points and 4.1 rebounds per game. Bogdanovic might not be playing the best basketball of his career now. But he has been very useful for the Utah Jazz and is shooting at just below 40% from the deep. With a half-fit Kawhi Leonard expected to feature at least for a part of the game, this matchup might prove to be the key to the outcome.
#3 Rudy Gobert vs Serge Ibaka
Rudy Gobert has reinstated himself as one of the best defenders in the NBA and has been a useful offensive threat for the Utah Jazz as well. He has been producing 13.9 points and 13.2 rebounds for a double-double, besides registering 2.8 blocks per game.
On the other hand, Serge Ibaka has been used sparingly in recent games due to the improved form of Ivaca Zubic. He's still a defensive mainstay for this LA Clippers side. Ibaka has been playing for only around 24 minutes per game, contributing 1.3 blocks, 6.8 rebounds, and 11.3 points per match.
The LA Clippers might struggle to contain the offensive threats that the Utah Jazz have.