The Utah Jazz finished with the best record in the NBA this season, but they are down 3-2 in their Western Conference semifinal series vs. the Clippers with Game 6 in Los Angeles tonight. Superstar Kawhi Leonard is for sure out for L.A. Utah leading scorer Donovan Mitchell is now a game-time decision with his troublesome ankle, while fellow All-Star guard Mike Conley reportedly is trending toward making his series debut off a hamstring injury. Utah is currently -2 on the William Hill Sportsbook NBA odds, but that number clearly could change.
The Clippers haven't said exactly what's wrong with Leonard, although various reports say it's an ACL issue and that even if there were a Game 7 on Sunday back in Salt Lake City that he would miss that, too. Keep in mind that Leonard probably will not exercise his player option for 2021-22, although everyone expects him to re-sign a longer deal with the Clippers.
Terance Mann started for Kawhi in L.A.'s 119-111 fairly major upset – the Jazz closed at -8 following Leonard being ruled out -- in Game 5 and had 13 points and was plus-15 in 26 minutes. Mann totaled 12 points in the first four games and wasn't playing much.
As for Mitchell, he is officially questionable for tonight with Adrian Wojnarowski now reporting that he's progressing toward a game-time decision. We find it hard to believe Mitchell sits out with the season on the line, but he's clearly nowhere near 100 percent with that ankle. He was 6-for-19 and 4-for-14 from deep in Game 5 for 21 points. He also struggled from the field in Game 4 but still had 37 points. Mitchell is given an Over/Under of 32.5 for this one at William Hill.
Even a 70 percent Mitchell with Conley returning would put the Jazz in a pretty good position to force a Game 7. Conley acknowledged earlier this week that he suffered a "small setback" on June 10 with his hamstring, but Woj is reporting that Conley is "working toward a return to the lineup."
Action as of now on the spread is leaning somewhat heavy toward Utah at William Hill Sportsbook. Some books already have bumped the spread to -2.5 with the Conley news. On the series line, the Clippers are -165 and Jazz +145.
Phoenix, though, is now the clear -140 favorite to win the West, with Utah at +260 and Los Angeles at +340. Yes, the Jazz have shorter odds to win the West than the Clippers but longer odds to win this series. That's oddsmakers believing Utah has a better shot of beating Phoenix than L.A. would because Leonard may not play in that series, either.
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