The LA Clippers’ team energy seems to be at a season-high after their preposterous win over the Miami Heat on Monday night. The Clippers were down four starters (Kawhi Leonard, Paul George, Patrick Beverley and Nicolas Batum) and were still able to defeat the Eastern Conference champions thanks to a team effort from their bench unit. But now LA will face an even greater test: They will welcome Donovan Mitchell, Rudy Gobert and the league-demolishing Utah Jazz to Staples Center on Wednesday night at 7 p.m.
The Clippers will once again be short-handed, as Paul George (bone edema in his right toe) and Nicolas Batum (concussion) have both been ruled out for Wednesday’s game. Kawhi Leonard, who has missed the last two games with a left lower leg contusion, has been upgraded to “questionable” as of Tuesday night.
This question may be the determining factor for the Clippers. Though they were able to defeat the struggling Heat without their stars, the Jazz are a different beast entirely. They’re currently the best team in the NBA, winning an astounding 19 of their last 20 contests, carrying the league’s fourth-best offense and second-best defense. The challenge is daunting regardless, but at least if the Clippers have Leonard back, they can say with confidence that they have the best player on the court. Sometimes, that’s all a game comes down to.
It appears the Clippers will be adding at least one more body that was unavailable on Monday. Patrick Beverley was not listed on the Clippers’ most recent injury report, and only missed Monday’s matchup for rest on the second night of a back-to-back. He’s only recently returned from knee soreness that kept him out for eight straight games, and he’s been playing fewer minutes than usual since returning. It seems he’ll be suiting up against the Jazz, and his defensive presence will be crucial as the Clippers hope to contain Donovan Mitchell (averaging 24.2 points and 5.1 assists). Mitchell’s backcourt mate, Mike Conley, has been upgraded to “questionable” to play against the Clippers after missing Utah’s last five games with a hamstring injury.
The Clippers will also have to deal with Jazz Center Rudy Gobert, whose shot-blocking and rebounding are as potent as ever. Jazz perimeter defenders have not been hesitant when it comes to staying home on three-point shooters, knowing that Gobert is behind them protecting the rim. Utah ranks second in the league in terms of fewest opponent three-pointers attempted, and fifth in opponent three-point percentage. The Clippers have won quite a few games by outshooting their opponent from long range, so it will be interesting to see if they can sustain their efficiency and volume against this elite defense.
How to Watch
Matchup: LA Clippers (21-8) vs. Utah Jazz (23-5)
Date: Wednesday, Feb. 17
Time: 7:00 p.m. PT
Venue: Staples Center
Broadcast Information: NBA League Pass
Spread: Clippers +5
Moneyline: Jazz -215, Clippers +180
Odds courtesy of FanDuel Sportsbook