Utah Jazz take on LA Clippers in first playoff game since 2012

The Utah Jazz are back in the playoffs after a five-year absence.

Utah is a rising team in National Basketball Association circles. So why am I putting this as a key matchup for the series?

The Jazz and Clippers are locked in a first-round series after finishing with identical 51-31 records this season.

Look for Paul to keep the Clippers focused on forcing the tempo and pushing the ball. Over their last five, the Clippers are putting up 113 points per game while allowing just 96.6 on defense. "I'm improving, but I know I can get a lot better". Should they lose in the first round to the Clippers, the small-market Jazz will have to think long and hard about whether this is the team they want to be locked into going forward.

The Clippers are one of the hottest teams in the league entering the postseason. By virtue of winning the season series, Los Angeles is hosting Game 1 on Saturday and Game 2 on Tuesday.

Yet they've been steadily building through the Draft since then and are showing some staying power inside the Western Conference.

"We have a deep team, and we work well together as a team defensively", Exum exclusively told Starsport. That said, he is no Chris Paul, a perennial candidate for Most Valuable Player and a future Hall of Famer.

Paul, in ways it doesn't for the team's other stars, is dogged by the stigma of never having reached the Western Conference finals. Redick and Jamal Crawford are all over the age of 30.

The Clippers survived a combined 42 games without injured Blake Griffin and Paul, going 19-23 in their absence. If they lose, they could possibly have to start a rebuild this summer. For the Jazz, if they're are going to win this series, they're going to need some big-time production from their franchise star.

The Clippers' backs are against the wall, making them very risky. This may be the first time I've been excited for a matchup that will involve little to no offense. Los Angeles beat the Jazz by double-digits in their other three meeting this season. The flawless mix of young and old, as well as defensive and offensive. Even if they do win, there might be major changes coming.

Prediction: Clippers in 7 games.

If you would like to receive an email each time a new Utah Jazz article is published, fill out our email notification form.

  • Julie Sanders