Clippers vs Jazz score takeaways: Donovan Mitchell, Utah wins Game 2 of the series against Los Angeles

The Utah Jazz successfully defended their home ground in the Western Conference semifinals as they dealt with the Los Angeles Clippers in the critical time to win Game 2 of their best-of-seven series. ‘at 21 points, but a furious Clippers second-half comeback narrowly failed as Utah walked away with the 117-111 victory.

It wasn’t Kawhi Leonard or Paul George who paved the way for the Clippers. No, it would be Reggie Jackson, who scored 29 points, a high for the team, to keep the Clippers afloat in this one. Sadly, they fell short of Donovan Mitchell, who followed his 45-point masterpiece in Game 1 with a 37-point gem in Game 2.

With the victory, the Jazz now leads this series 2-0 during their transition to Los Angeles. The Clippers were in that position in the last round, however, so they are unfamiliar with the comebacks. They’ll have to be even better to beat this stellar jazz team, but if the Dallas series has proven anything, it’s that they’re tough enough for the job. Here are the three biggest takeaways from Game 2.

1. Mitchell’s mastery

As I mentioned after the first game, Donovan Mitchell destroyed the Clippers by chasing their worst defenders in pick-and-roll. It’s a basic superstar strategy and the easiest way to mine a Switch. The Clippers tried to adapt defensively in Game 2. It just didn’t work because Mitchell destroyed virtually every blanket they threw at him.

The Clippers had been playing largely small since the Dallas series in an effort to both maximize their spacing and increase switching on defense, but after their struggles in Game 1 they returned to a large lineup with Ivica Zubac. In the center. This forced them to play drop cover off the pick-and-rolls because Zubac isn’t fast enough to defend the perimeter. Mitchell noticed it immediately and punched Zubac for two quick 3-point shots coming out of screens.

When the Clippers tried to blitz him in the second half, he came off for easy buckets.

There is no longer a right answer for Mitchell. This is the last level attacking players must reach to claim fame, and it is also the point Luka Doncic reached in the last round. There is no longer any cover that works against Mitchell. He has mastered how to beat them all. All the Clippers can do at this point is pick a path and hope Mitchell misses or can force him through and his teammates do. That’s not going to cut him off against such a good offense.

2. Did the Clippers lose their best shot?

We see this at some point in almost every playoff. A team that trails by 20 or more becomes desperate and erupts an area defense. It works for a quarter or two and they cut the deficit to single digits, but ultimately lost the game. Then when they start the next game with the area as their base, the opposing team destroys it because they had the chance to watch it on film and analyze its weaknesses.

It’s a story as old as time, and the Clippers are now heading down that path after their loss in Game 2. They were trailing up to 21 points in the third quarter, but the zone helped them to. fight your way into the game. But it was not enough. They have now lost 0-2 and no longer have that card to play. As effective as AoE defenses can be, their best trait is how rarely they are used. The teams are surprised to see areas. Once the element of surprise is gone, the defense becomes fully beatable. This is especially true for teams like Jazz that have a lot of shots.

When you factor in all the pick-and-roll covers the Clippers have tried, it’s worth wondering what tweaks Ty Lue even left to try. He has now experimented with virtually every type of composition and cover style his roster can produce. Nothing works. Maybe better execution can make the difference here, but for now the Clippers are on life support with no obvious medication.

3. Do not do yourself any favors

Rudy Gobert has played 36 minutes in this game. The Jazz won these minutes by 14 points. When Derrick Favors replaced him, however, Jazz’s once impregnable defense seemed entirely lethal. Reggie Jackson and Paul George were much more aggressive attacking the basket, and the Clippers won those minutes by eight points.

Favors is not a bad defender, although he has declined since his first stint at Jazz. His real crime just isn’t being Rudy Gobert. Gobert’s presence scares the Clippers from driving, making it much easier for Utah perimeter defenders to stay with their shooters. When Gobert leaves the floor, everything opens up. The Clippers look like the Clippers again.

Great men tend to struggle, especially with the playoff workloads. Utah can’t just ask Gobert to play 45 minutes. They’re going to have to survive those bench minutes somehow, and Favors isn’t working right now. Could Jazz get away with playing small and sticking Bojan Bogdanovic in the middle? Maybe for short periods. The offensive approach is viable for a team with as much shooting as the Jazz, but it’s not something they would want to try for more than a few minutes at a time. Either way, if the Clippers start shooting the best they can, Utah will need to find a way to defend the basket when Gobert is out of play. Typically, a streak against such a talented team has failed. a large enough margin of error to survive a stretch of minus 8 from a key save.

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