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Tuesday Underdogs Preview Article

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Daily Upset Alert: NBA Underdog Picks

Los Angeles Clippers vs. Utah Jazz
Tuesday, June 8, 2021 at 10 p.m. ET (TNT) at Vivint Smart Home Arena in Salt Lake City

Positive Situation For Los Angeles

Evidence for my claim that the Clippers find themselves in a strong situation for Game 1 is supplied by the first round of the playoffs.

Before Game 1 of the first round, the Jazz were favored by eight.points to beat Memphis. But they lost by three points.

In that game, Memphis benefitted from having a quick turnaround after participating in the play-in tournament.

Conversely, Utah did not have to participate in the play-in tournament. While Memphis was fresh, Utah was rusty.

We get the same situation here because Utah beat Memphis in five games. The Jazz last played on June 2.

Conversely, the Clippers played on Sunday when they defeated Dallas in Game 7.

L.A. will be glad to take advantage of this situation on the road where they are 3-0 SU and 3-0 ATS in the playoffs, with two of their wins coming by double digits.

One may speculate as to the reason why, but the Clippers are clearly stronger on the road.

Nevertheless, tonight’s NBA odds evince less respect towards the Clippers because they are on the road.

L.A.’s Perimeter Defense

One issue that showed itself in L.A.’s first-round series against Dallas was perimeter defense.

Dallas made this a seven-game series largely because of its ability to shoot threes.

Because Utah’s three-point stats are better than Dallas’ and because Utah relies heavily on making threes, one may be tempted to reason that the Clippers will have even more trouble with Utah’s shooters than with Dallas’.

But such reasoning is erroneous because Dallas and Utah are two different teams who match up differently with the Clippers.

The Mavs did not succeed from beyond the arc against L.A. because they are good at shooting threes, but because they matched up well with L.A.

Dallas benefited from having a superstar in Luka, who the Clippers could hardly find an answer for. Their defense had to commit so much attention to Luka and Luka has such great vision and passing ability that Dallas was able to procure a lot of open three-point attempts.

The high number of open three-point attempts that the Clippers allowed do not reflect some kind of regression in their perimeter defense because they are consistent with the frequency of open three-point attempts that they conceded against Dallas during the regular season.

Overall, in the regular season, the Clipper perimeter defense was strong, ranking among the better teams at limiting opposing open three-point attempts and ranking third-best at limiting opposing wide open three-point attempts.

In terms of limiting more makable shots, L.A. did a better job in its last two regular season games against Utah than it did against Dallas.

So the Clippers own a stronger perimeter defense and one that is more equipped to handle Utah’s offense than Dallas’.

Clipper Offense vs. Jazz Defense

Defensively, Utah is uniquely willing to concede mid-range shot attempts.

In the regular season, the Jazz allowed the highest rate of field goal attempts from five to 19 feet from the basket.

Their difficulties against the mid range manifested themselves in the first round when Grizzly point guard Ja Morant flourished inside with his bevy of floaters.

The Clippers match up well with Utah’s defense because they were the most efficient team in the regular season from 5-9 feet and from 15-19 feet.

Look out especially for Kawhi Leonard who has been very efficient in these playoffs from the mid-range, converting well over half of his field goal attempts from 5-19 feet.

Leonard is playing his best basketball. He’s stepping up on defense, where he has cultivated a strong reputation throughout his career, to limit the opposing team’s top scorer.

Moreover, in June, his scoring average is far higher than in any other month, despite often seeing more double teams.

The Verdict

Because the Clippers benefit from a quicker turnaround, get to play on the road, own a stronger defensive match-up with their perimeter defense, and will thrive on offense in the mid-range particularly with Kawhi, who is arguably the best player on the court tonight, they will have Utah on upset alert tonight.

Best Bet: Clippers +4 at -108 with Heritage
 

B.A.R.

CTG Partner
Staff member
Very in-depth here...

Love the analysis on the mid range game...

One thing to remember from the Utah Memphis game 1 is that Mitchell was sidelined.
 

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