The Los Angeles Clippers are set to take on the Utah Jazz on Wednesday night, where the winner will take a 3-2 series lead. It’s a pivotal game with everything on the line, so we should see a spectacular performance from both squads. For the Clippers, they’re now facing an uphill battle after Kawhi Leonard suffered a knee injury in the last game. According to CBS, Leonard is expected to miss Game 5, which could prove to be detrimental to the Clippers’ postseason run.
Not all is bad for LA though, as they still have the pieces to upset the Jazz. Losing Leonard is not ideal, but they can survive without him. The Clippers have an incredibly deep rotation, which should help them in the long run. They’re also well-coached and know how to play to their strengths. After falling to the Jazz 0-2 to start this series, Los Angeles has tied it back up, proving they can compete with the league’s top-seeded team in the Western Conference.
The Clippers will likely look to Paul George more often, as he’ll be the focal point of LA’s offense. This team also utilizes stellar defense, which has played a huge role in their success throughout the year. Additionally, if the Clippers can control the glass, then they can control the game. With that said, here are three reasons why the Clippers can still beat the Jazz without Kawhi Leonard.
They can still lean on Paul George
The Clippers are losing a superstar player, but luckily for them they have another one on the roster. Los Angeles will be leaning on Paul George throughout the rest of the series, as he’s undeniably the best scorer on the team now. He’ll need his teammates to step up as well, but George will have to be main guy for the rest of this series.
Look for Paul George to have a big night in Game 5. His performance is key to the Clippers’ success. If he can get things going early and often, then Los Angeles should be fine without Kawhi Leonard in the rotation. George is at his best when he gets physical and attacks the rim, which should be in the Clippers’ game plan.
Their phenomenal defense will keep them in it
The Clippers have one of the best defensive teams in the league, and even with Kawhi Leonard sidelined, LA still holds an advantage defensively. With the likes of George, Patrick Beverley, and Rajon Rondo, the Clippers can guard almost everyone at the perimeter.
LA’s defense has kept them in most games. In fact, they can credit the defense for staying within striking distance with the Jazz during the first two games of the series. They’ll have to be at their best, as Utah is one of the best scoring teams in the league this year. Even so, the Clippers have all of the tools necessary to keep up with the Jazz.
Win the battle of the boards, win the series
The battle of the boards has been a fun one to watch in this series, as Rudy Gobert has gone toe-to-toe with the entire Clippers team. LA was able to gain the advantage in rebounding in Game 4, which gave them an edge throughout the game. With Leonard out of the lineup, the Clippers must control the glass to maintain possession of the ball.
More possessions leads to more scoring opportunities. This can give the Clippers the boost they need to overcome the Jazz for the remaining of the series. Look for Los Angeles to become ultra aggressive, as their postseason lives are on the line.