Jordan Clarkson might be playing mind games with his upcoming Conference Semifinal opponent, the LA Clippers.
During his media availability on Tuesday, the Utah Jazz Sixth Man of the Year wore a throwback Kobe Bryant Laker Jersey. Clarkson obviously played with the late Bryant back when he himself was a Laker, but it is interesting that Clarkson would wear the jersey of the Clippers’ crosstown rival the day before Game 1 of their series.
Clarkson was not fazed by the notion that LA intentionally tanked the last two games of the regular season to remain on the Jazz’s side of the Western Conference playoff bracket. Ironically, it seemed as though the Clippers were trying to avoid the Lakers, who have since been bounced in the first round by the Phoenix Suns. Regardless, the Clippers understood that, should they and the Jazz both advance past the first round, they would be squaring off against the no. 1 overall seed.
"If they were losing games trying to come play us, that's the fate they chose,” Clarkson said. “We're gonna come out there and lace ’em up."
Clarkson wasn’t the only member of the Jazz organization to comment on the Clippers’ apparent bracket manipulation.
"Obviously, we're a matchup that the Clippers felt was advantageous to them," Jazz Head Coach Quin Snyder said during his own media availability on Tuesday.
Whether LA found the Jazz truly advantageous or just less of a threat than the Lakers will probably never be answered. Clippers Head Coach Tyronn Lue already said that he doesn’t “give a damn” what people say about LA’s end-of-season tank job, and it’s unlikely anyone in the organization will openly come forward about the team’s preferences.
Regardless, if the Jazz are using this as motivation, more power to them. It’ll likely make for a more interesting, adversarial series.
Game 1 tips off on Tuesday night at 7 p.m.