Clippers @ Jazz Predictions: Take the total with Kawhi out
Fade Paul George, Clippers offense In Game 5
21:37 Wednesday 16th June 2021 - 3 minute read
With Kawhi Leonard ruled out for Game 5, Zach Rainey shares his picks for Game 5
NBA fans and sports bettors alike were dealt some unfortunate news today when it was reported that Los Angeles Clippers superstar forward Kawhi Leonard would be out for the team’s Game 5 matchup against the Utah Jazz.
The Clippers had just started to find their rhythm, winning both games back at the Staples Center to tie the series at two with the series now going to Utah. Leonard scored 34 in Game 3 and 31 in Game 4, as well as one of the most electric dunks of these playoffs.
Without Leonard, I don’t think the Clippers stand a chance. You’re No. 1 option is now Paul George, and there’s times I get worried about him as the No. 2 option. To his credit, he scored 31 points in each of the last two games. Even with a hot George, I don’t think it will be enough for the Clippers to pull this one out.
George has yet to really have that stinker of a game in the playoffs he’s been known to have, so I’m wondering if that comes tonight now that the entire Utah defense focuses on him. He’s averaged 27 a game for the series, but 888Sport, BetRivers and Unibet all have his over-under for points set at 30 tonight.
For those of you who don’t know what I mean by one of his stinkers, In 2018, Paul George scored 34 in a 107-99 win for the Thunder over the Utah Jazz, but still trailed 3-2. In the crucial Game 6, George scored just five points on 2-for-16 shooting and was 0-for-6 from deep.
In the bubble last summer, his team fell 4-2 to the Dallas Mavericks. George went for 27 in Game 1 and 35 in Game 5, but averaged 12.2 per game in the other four games of the series.
Clippers fans are going to get mad at the next few things I say, but I think this is the “Fade Paul George” game. Utah was fourth in the league this season in defensive efficiency according to teamrankings.com and tied for third according to espn.com.
I’m upset too Clippers fans. Just yesterday, I had bought a ticket for the Clippers to win the series at even odds, just for this news to come out today. Even knowing his accomplishments, I thought Kawhi was playing some of the best basketball of his career in these playoffs, so for him to have a potential ACL injury is saddening for all who love to watch him play.
Leonard’s loss isn’t just on the offensive end, as they have now lost the best player they have to defend Donovan Mitchell on the other end.
I think the Clippers offense struggles mightily tonight, so put me down for the under 220.5 in addition to Paul George under 30.