The Los Angeles Clippers faced an uphill battle as they entered the 5th game of the series against Utah Jazz because they had to travel to Salt Lake City without the best player Kavi Leonard. In the end it is not a bar. The Clippers put off a shocking grief of beating the Jazz 119-111 and went one step further on their first trip to the Western Conference Finals. This is thanks to their very worst player.
When the Clippers needed him the most, Paul George led four players to Los Angeles when he finished with a high of 37 points in a game. Jazz, on the other hand, wasted an attempt in which six players scored in double figures, as a team, they dropped 20 shots beyond the curve.
With the win, Los Angeles now has the opportunity to close the series on Friday night at Game 6 at the Staples Center. Here are three of the most important missions from Game 5.
1. Playoff b
Reggie Jackson signed with the clippers after receiving a purchase from Detroit Pistons due to his friendship with Paul George. George is so valuable to the clippers in Game 5. It would not even be accurate to say that the court did everything for them. He took care of some of their most important businesses by recruiting Jackson, who gave the clippers 20 big points.
It’s the latest in a string of George’s best performances this season, with 20 or more points from 12 games at the Clippers. Just as he has been impressed by his post-season performances over the past several years, it is also worth noting that his bad reputation in the post-season is not exactly right. Yes, there were some stinks, but George LeBron went up to the toe twice with James in the Eastern Conference finals. He took one of those series to a Game 7. He has achieved a lot in the latter season. Some bad moments will not change it.
But even the most ardent supporters of George can’t see Game 5 coming. It’s not quite as spectacular as Kevin Torrent’s Tuesday masterpiece, but it was great for similar reasons. In both cases, a player primarily known as a scoring division had to raise his team to a reduced list, in both cases, they delivered. George was worthy of five first-round picks and then had some in the game, and now, only one win from his first trip to the Clippers Western Conference Final.
2. Live by 3 and die by 3
Paradoxically, starting a million 3-pointers is usually a backward trick. This is a way to maximize variation, which is usually something a favorite wants to avoid. Jazz is an exception in that regard. They were built to shoot 3-pointers and were rewarded for doing so all season. But that was the variation they made on Wednesday. They were cold at the worst.
Jazz hit 17 3-pointers in 30 attempts in the first half. Bojan Boktanovic made six of them in the first quarter alone. Then, in the second half, they made only three of their 24 attempts, not hitting a single attempt in the third quarter. The shot that disputed them all season stopped the fall.
Under normal circumstances, Jazz might have lived with it. In the first two games of the series a healthy Donovan Mitchell dominated the Clippers, but since he replaced the ankle, he has been compromised. He shot 6-19 off the field in Game 5. This is another hurdle that jazz can overcome in general, but since they have the whole series, they played Game 5 without Mike Conley. Utah can survive one of those misfortunes. Maybe two. But these are not all three.
It is reminiscent of the Houston Rockets crashing against the Golden State Warriors in the 2018 Western Conference Final. They may have dropped the Warriors despite extending the 0-to-27 shooting from behind the curve, but with Chris Paul out, they had no choice but to make good shots. Jazz had to fire as the usual forms of shot-creation went out the window. The result was a shocking loss, and if Mitchell or Conley could not be healthy in time for Game 6, Utah’s season would end on Friday.
3. The real winners of Game 5
Yes, it was a big, big win for the Clippers, but they weren’t the only team happy at the end of Wednesday. Let’s talk for a moment about Phoenix Sun. Earlier on Wednesday, they learned that Chris Paul would be leaving indefinitely as part of the league’s COVID-19 protocol. The longer they can stop starting the Western Conference finals, the better the chance of getting Paul back at some point in the series.
Well, there are three possible outcomes in this series. If the Clippers win six or seven games, the Suns are currently playing against a team that is currently missing its best player due to injury. Can’t say when Kavi Leonard will be back, so the competition with the Clippers will be endless for someone with Sun. What if Utah wins the series? Wednesday’s loss guaranteed the series to go to seven games instead of six. Paul has two extra days to start getting the ethics that they would not have had if the Jazz had won the Western Conference Finals early.
The suns are obviously not happy with their position. They want the ball to be ready for Game 1. But all in all, this is their best situation. They either take home-court advantage against a team that has lost Leonard or delay a series with Utah as much as possible.
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