The Utah Jazz got one break when the Dallas Mavericks-Los Angeles Clippers series stretched out to seven games because that allowed Jazz All-Star point guard Mike Conley two extra days of rest on his injured hamstring. However, Conley is out for Tuesday's Game 1 vs. the Clippers, as is L.A. center Serge Ibaka. Utah has dropped from a 5-point favorite to -3 on the William Hill Sportsbook NBA odds without Conley. Clips star Kawhi Leonard is given an Over/Under of 27.5 points off his huge series vs. Dallas.
Conley left Utah's clinching Game 5 win over Memphis on June 2 with right hamstring soreness – that same hamstring that caused him to miss nine games near the end of the regular season. Conley was terrific against his former Grizzlies series in Round 1, averaging 17.6 points and 8.6 assists per game while shooting 54.8 percent from 3-point range. Overall, the Jazz were 15-6 this season without Conley. He ranked second in the NBA in overall plus-minus during the regular season behind only teammate Rudy Gobert.
The Jazz lost Game 1 vs. Memphis when Donovan Mitchell was out with his ankle issue but pretty easily won the next four with Mitchell back. He averaged 28.5 points in the four games and has an Over/Under of 28.5 points for Tuesday.
As for Ibaka, he's no shock he's out again with back troubles that have plagued him all year. He was able to play the first two games vs. Dallas but not since. It certainly would be nice to have Ibaka to help deal with Gobert on the boards at some point this series. Gobert is averaging 17.4 points on 77.8 percent shooting from the field, 13.0 rebounds and 3.2 blocks in 32.4 minutes per contest in these playoffs. The Clippers largely played small vs. the Mavericks.
Leonard was absolutely on fire the final two games vs. the Mavs as L.A. rallied from a 3-2 hole. He had 45 points on 18-for-25 shooting along with six rebounds in Game 6 and then 28 points on 10-for-15 shooting along with 10 rebounds and nine assists in Game 7. Leonard became the fourth player in NBA history to score 200 or more points on at least 60 percent shooting from the field in a playoff series. He also played as good of defense as possible on Mavs star Luka Doncic and surely will be guarding Mitchell plenty in this series.
Utah was 2-1 vs. the Clippers this season but one of those Jazz victories was when L.A. was without Leonard and Paul George. Mitchell averaged 24.7 points in the series and Conley 24.5 (he also missed a game). Leonard averaged 24.5 points in his two and George 20.0.
The Jazz are 9-3 ATS in the past 12 meetings overall. Home teams are 3-1 SU & ATS in the four conference semifinal games played thus far. This is the last series to start, and this writer will be picking Utah on the moneyline but wait until it reaches its lowest number (probably -150).
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