The hard working and gritty players of the Phoenix Suns will probably say that it doesn’t matter who they face in the Western Conference Finals—and rightfully so because they can contend with any team in the league.
5. The Jazz don’t have Kawhi Leonard and Paul George
It’s as simple as this. Sure, the Jazz have Rudy Gobert and Donovan Mitchell, but with the way Leonard and George are playing right now, the Clipper duo will probably be the best players on the floor.
This is no disrespect to the Point God Chris Paul and rising star Devin Booker. However, George and Leonard will be the harder matchup compared to the Jazz duo.
Mildly interesting stat: Kawhi Leonard and Paul George are putting up exactly the same stats in the Jazz series.
— StatMuse (@statmuse) June 13, 2021
Take note, the Suns defeated a banged up Los Angeles Lakers and Denver Nuggets team. The Clippers, on the other hand, are relatively healthy.
Of course there are some concerns with regards to Leonard’s status after suffering a sprained ankle, but there is a huge possibility he’ll be able to return at some point.
I would also argue that the Clippers are deeper and more equipped to beat the surging Suns, especially if fatigue does not get in the way. Unlike last season, the Clippers have proven that they can win games even if their backs are against the wall.
4. The Jazz are a weaker road team
The Suns’ home court is a superb advantage for the whole team. This would be beneficial for them if they face the Jazz, but not the Clippers.
The Clippers have proven that they can win on the road in their series versus the Dallas Mavericks and at least keep up with the Jazz while on the road. The Jazz, meanwhile, are a better home team as they were just 21-15 on the road this season.
3. The Clippers make better adjustments
The Clippers can adjust and they are damn good at it. There’s no doubt that Monty Williams has the ability to do so too.
If there’s something Clippers head coach Ty Lue has shown in the playoffs so far, it’s that he can make the necessary adjustments for his team.
The Jazz, meanwhile, still need to figure out the Clippers’ small ball offense. The Jazz’s bench without Mike Conley was just 4-of-19 for just 10 points in Game 4. The Jazz desperately need Conley.
Beating a switching scheme in the postseason when the opponent knows exactly what you want as the series goes on is where the big wings or creators like LeBron and Luka excel. Much harder for a lead initiator like Mitchell at 6’1’’ when the screen/roll with Gobert isn’t there.
— Mike Trudell (@MikeTrudell) June 15, 2021
2. The Suns are more equipped to handle the Jazz
The Suns are a really good defensive team, but if we were to break down which team is harder to defend, then it’s probably the Clippers.
With no disrespect to the Jazz, the Clippers have two elite wings surrounded by elite 3-point shooting. The Jazz have Mitchell and Gobert surrounded by 3-point shooting and scorers as well. The wing position is just harder to defend, especially if the Clips decide to go small.
As for the Jazz, the Clippers have found a way to beat their system. Get Gobert out of the floor and double team Mitchell. Yes, the Jazz miss Conley because he maximizes Gobert the most ,but how much more time can Conley buy?
The Clippers might have solved the Jazz, and the Suns are on the couch taking note.
1. The Suns swept the Jazz in the regular season
Yes, it’s never wise to judge the regular season and carry that to the playoffs. But stats still mean something. Phoenix and Utah both took the regular season seriously, and as it turns out, the Suns defeated the Jazz three times out of three.
Meanwhile, the Suns only defeated the Clippers once out of three times. That one game was without Leonard and they barely beat them comfortably.