Clippers vs. Jazz Wednesday NBA injury report, Game 5 odds, spread, pick: Kawhi Leonard shockingly out (knee); Mike Conley to make series debut?

The home team has yet to lose in the Clippers-Jazz Western Conference semifinal series as it shifts back to Utah for Game 5 Wednesday. In shocking news, L.A. star Kawhi Leonard will not play. Will Utah's Mike Conley go?
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The Dallas Mavericks-Los Angeles Clippers first-round Western Conference series didn't see the home team win a game until Game 7. However, the Clippers-Utah Jazz semifinal series has had the home team win and cover the spread in all four. It returns to Salt Lake City on Wednesday for Game 5 with Jazz All-Star guard Mike Conley the big injury question per usual. Well, that was the big injury question before an ESPN bombshell this morning that the Clippers' Kawhi Leonard will miss at least Game 5 with a knee injury. Utah was a 3-point favorite on the William Hill Sportsbook NBA odds but that spread is going to rise with the Kawhi news.

Conley has yet to play in this series with a right hamstring strain and the team isn't exactly being forthcoming with information on the first-time All-Star – nor should it. Why give the Clippers an advantage? Conley remains questionable, but did travel with the team for Los Angeles for Games 3-4, for what that's worth. (Will the fact that the Nets' James Harden returned from his own hamstring injury in Game 5 on Tuesday but struggled mightily affect Utah's thinking?)

That Utah offense simply doesn't have the same spacing when Joe Ingles is starting for Conley even though Ingles has scored exactly 19 points in three straight games and has shot better than 54 percent in all of them. Of course, the Jazz bench also is weaker because Ingles isn't on it. That group could use a boost because NBA Sixth Man of the Year Jordan Clarkson is in a funk. He had just 22 combined points on 8-for-28 shooting in the two losses in Los Angeles.

Meanwhile, Leonard has been marvelous in this series in averaging 27.3 points on 50.1 percent shooting along with 7.5 rebounds and 4.0 assists. Leonard did come up a bit gimpy after driving to the basket while being fouled by Ingles with 5:25 left in Game 4. Leonard left the contest with 4:35 remaining and did not return. He said he was fine, but apparently not. His status for the rest of the series is in doubt, according to ESPN. Wow. 

Paul George, meanwhile, didn't shoot well in the first two games but scored 31 points in both games in Los Angeles. PG13 and Leonard are the fifth duo since the 1976-77 merger with 30 points each in back-to-back playoff games.

Prior to the start of this series, Leonard and George had both scored 30 or more points in the same game just four times during their first 100 regular-season and postseason contests together. Both the Over and Under 25.5 points are priced -110 for George on Wednesday. That total is sure to rise with the Leonard news. 

L.A. was 6-5 SU & 5-6 ATS in games with George and without Leonard during the regular season. 

On the updated series line, Utah is -125 and Los Angeles +105. Jazz winning in seven is the +210 exact result favorite. Rested Phoenix is the +130 favorite to win the West, but the the Leonard injury changes everything. See the SportsLine Projection Model below. 

With no Kawhi, this writer jumped on the Jazz to win tonight. 

LA CLIPPERS             vs UTAH     WEST        CHAMP
Before Injury 48.30% 28.70% 17.30%
w/ Kawhi Injury 29.00% 17.60% 10.80%
DIFFERENCE -19.30% -11.10% -6.50%

The SportsLine Projection Model simulates every NBA game 10,000 times, and it has returned almost $9,100 in profit on its top-rated NBA picks over the past two-plus seasons. The model is up almost $700 on its top-rated picks this season and entered this week of the 2021 NBA Playoffs on a stunning 100-66 roll on top-rated NBA picks against the spread dating to last season. Anybody who has followed it has seen HUGE returns.

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