Utah (3-3) at LA Clippers (3-3)
When: Sunday, April 30th 2017
Where: Staples Center, Los Angeles, CA
Time: 3:35 ET | TV: ABC
The Los Angeles Clippers will host the Utah Jazz on Sunday afternoon in the only Game 7 in this year’s first round of the NBA Playoffs. The Jazz, who haven’t won a postseason series since 2010, blew a golden opportunity to close things out at home in Game 6, but got some poor shooting performances from Joe Johnson and Rodney Hood. The Clippers pulled away in the fourth quarter and appeared to be on their way to an easy victory, but Utah’s Gordon Hayward scored seven straight points to pull the Jazz to within three points, but Johnson missed a three-pointer in the closing seconds that could have tied it. Center Rudy Gobert twisted his left ankle late in Friday’s Game 6 and X-rays ruled out a serious injury, so he will be available for Game 7. Gobert was bothered with a knee injury earlier in the series and the Jazz need him to match up with Clippers center DeAndre Jordan. Point guard George Hill helped keep Utah in the game by scoring 22 points in Game 6 and is averaging 16.8 points in the series. The winner of this game will travel to Golden State on Tuesday to take on the well-rested Warriors.
Chris Paul scored 29 points and dished out eight assists on Friday to lead the Clippers to the 98-93 do-or-die victory and help send the series back to Staples Center for the deciding game. Los Angeles held a 91-77 edge with 3:58 left in Game 6 and had to hold off a frantic Utah charge to even the series. Paul helped hold off the comeback attempt and will again be counted on heavily Sunday in a series in which he is averaging 27.3 points and 10 assists and topped 20 points in all six games. Without forward Blake Griffin, the leadership squarely rests on Paul’s shoulders. “As one of the leaders of this team, he’s done a great job of that all season and even more in the playoffs,” said Jordan. Shooting guard J.J. Redick needs to help out Paul, as the former Duke product is averaging just 10.2 points in the series and scored in single digits four times. Backup point guard Austin Rivers, who’s been out with a hamstring injury since the beginning of April, scored 13 points in 34 minutes of action in his second game back.
The Clippers really took control of this series with an impressive road win with their backs against the wall. That momentum should carry over to the Staples Center. Utah will need a big effort from Gobert, but his injuries are starting to be a problem for the Jazz.
Pick: Clippers -3.5
HEAD TO HEAD