The Jazz lost their defensive centerpiece in Rudy Gobert during the first 20 seconds in Game 1 with a hyperextended knee. The Jazz went on to win that game, on the road, against a Clippers team that couldn’t capitalize on the mismatch down low.
In Game 2, the Clippers finally decided to use that mismatch to their advantage, with Chris Paul getting DeAndre Jordan going early and often. Right off the bat they had two alley-oops to Jordan and Lob City was off to the races.
By halftime, Jordan had 14 points and 10 rebounds as the Clippers led the Jazz, 51-42. The Clippers were attacking the hole that Gobert left and it was more than apparent. At the break, Los Angeles had 34 points in the paint, while Utah only had 16.
The Clippers, who averaged 40 points in the paint per game in the regular season, finished the night with 60 and there was nothing Utah could do to stop it. It’s hard for Utah to make up for what Gobert brings to the court. Throughout the regular season Gobert was first in the league in blocks and fourth in rebounds, and that is not something you can easily get back.
While the Clippers led throughout the entire game, they still needed Paul to take over late to keep the Jazz at bay. Paul finished with 21 points and 10 assists.
The game was always in reach for Utah and at any moment you could see an epic Clippers collapse ready to happen. It’s unclear if or when Gobert will return but it will have a significant impact on this series.