The stage is set.
Up three games to two on the Utah Jazz, the LA Clippers will return home to a packed Staples Center on Friday night with a chance to close out the series and advance to the Western Conference Finals for the first time in franchise history.
To longtime Clippers fans, a win tonight would be monumental. This current team, however, seems less concerned with achieving the feat.
"I want to win a championship," coach Tyronn Lue said on Thursday. "The first time ever getting to the Western Conference Finals, of course guys are thinking about that, but I'm focused, and my job is just to make sure we're focused on tomorrow night, and that's it."
Whether the Clippers advance tonight or not, Game 6 is going to be a hard-fought contest. Even with Kawhi Leonard sidelined, LA appears to understand what it has to do to defeat Utah. The Clippers' relentless offensive attack and decision to go small has one of the top-ranked defenses in the league looking all out of sorts, but the Jazz are going to adjust. Good teams find a way to recover.
With that said, Paul George made it clear that he can handle any defender Utah puts on him with his 37-point showing in Game 5, and Lue seems content to let the Jazz double him. George is more than capable of passing out of those situations, and the Clippers have a multitude of elite shooters they can place around the perimeter. Reggie Jackson, Nicolas Batum and Luke Kennard are all shooting above 48% from three in this series, and Marcus Morris Sr. has hit eight of his last 10 from beyond the arc.
It could come down to three-point shooting for the Jazz as well. Utah went 17-30 from deep in the first half of Game 5 and just 3-24 the rest of the way. So while it seems fair to assume that they won't go that drastically hot or cold from range again, the Clippers have to respect their shooters and keep them from getting in any sort of rhythm.
Utah may also have to survive without Donovan Mitchell and Mike Conley, who are both considered questionable to take the floor. Conley has yet to appear in this series, while Mitchell is averaging 34.0 points per game.
Momentum favors the Clippers coming into Game 6, and with Staples Center operating at full capacity, it won't be easy for the Jazz to come in and steal a victory. But Utah isn't going to back down, and LA has to be prepared to match their level of urgency.
It's time to find out exactly what both of these teams are made of.
How to Watch
Matchup: LA Clippers (3-2) vs. Utah Jazz (2-3)
Date: Friday, June 18
Time: 7:00 p.m. PT
Venue: Staples Center
Spread: Jazz -2.5
Moneyline: Clippers +120, Jazz -142
Point Total: O/U 220.5
Odds courtesy of FanDuel Sportsbook