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Clippers vs. Jazz score, takeaways: Donovan Mitchell, Utah take match 2 of the series against Los Angeles

The Utah Jazz successfully defended their home court in the semifinals of the Western Conference as they took care of the Los Angeles Clippers in a short time to win Game 2 of their best of seven series. The Jazz led by 21 points, but the Clippers’ fierce return in the second half fell short when Utah left with a 117-111 victory.

It wasn’t Kauhi Leonard or Paul George who led the way to the Clippers. No, it would be Reggie Jackson, who scored 29 points on the team to keep the Clippers afloat in this one. Unfortunately, they were not a match for Donovan Mitchell, who followed his 45-point Master 1

masterpiece with a 37-point gem in Game 2.

With the win, jazz now leads the series 2-0 as they move to Los Angeles. The Clippers were in that position in the last round, so the returns are hardly unknown to them. They will have to be even better to beat this star jazz team, but if the series in Dallas proves something, it means that they are durable enough to work. Here are the three biggest snacks from Game 2.

1. Mitchell’s mastery

As I mentioned after Game 1, Donovan Mitchell destroyed the Clippers by chasing his worst defenders in pick-and-roll. This is a basic superstar strategy and the easiest way to use a switch. The clippers tried to adjust in defense in Game 2. It just didn’t work out, because Mitchell basically destroyed every cover they threw at him.

The clippers largely played a small part of the Dallas series in an attempt to maximize their distance and increase the switchability of the defense, but after their fight in Game 1, they returned to a large lineup with Ivica Zubac in the center. Thus, they forced them to play a drop of coverage, as Zubac is not fast enough to protect the perimeter. Mitchell immediately noticed this and hit Zubac for two fast-paced 3-threes coming off the screens.

When Clippers tried to flash him in the second half, he came out of it for easy buckets.

There is no longer a good answer for Mitchell. This is the last level of offensive players that must be reached to claim a superstar and this is the point at which Luka Doncic reached the last round. There’s just no cover left to work against Mitchell. He has mastered how to defeat them all. All Clippers can do at this point is choose a path and hope that either Mitchell misses or that they can force him to cross and his teammates do. This will not reduce it against such a good violation.

2. Did the clippers lose their best move?

We see this at some point in almost every postseason. A team that is 20 or more behind despairs and breaks through a zonal defense. He works for a quarter or two and they reduce the deficit to single digits, but eventually lose the game. Then, when they start the next game with the zone as a base, the opposing team destroys it because there is a chance to watch it on film and dissect its weaknesses.

It’s a time-old tale, and the Clippers are on their way now after losing Game 2. They lost 21 points in the third quarter, but the zone helped them get back into the game. But it was not enough. They are already 0-2 and they no longer have this playing card left. As effective as protection zones are, their best feature is how rarely they are used. The teams are surprised to see areas. Once the element of surprise disappears, the defense becomes completely invincible. This is especially true for teams like Jazz, which have a lot of shooting.

When you consider all the pick-up and throw covers that 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 style of coating that his list can create. Nothing works. Maybe better performance can make a difference here, but right now the Clippers are on life support without any obvious cure.

3. Do not do yourself any favors

Rudy Robert played 36 minutes in this game. Jazz won those minutes with 14 points. When Derrick Favors replaced him, however, the previous impregnable jazz defense seemed utterly deadly. Reggie Jackson and Paul George were far more aggressive in attacking the basket, and the Clippers won those minutes with eight points.

Favors is not a bad defender, although he gave up his first jazz stay. His real crime is simply not to be Rudy Robert. Robert’s presence frightens the Clippers from driving, making it easier for Utah’s perimeter defenders to stick to their shooters. When Robert leaves the floor, everything opens. The clippers look like, well, the clippers again.

Big men tend to struggle especially with the loads in the playoffs. Utah can’t just ask Robert to play for 45 minutes. They will have to survive those minutes on the bench in some way, and Favors is not working right now. Can jazz get away with playing small and sticking Bojan Bogdanovic in the center? Maybe for short stretches. The all-crime approach is viable for a team with as much shooting as jazz, but it’s not something they’d want to try for more than a few minutes at a time. Either way, if the Clippers start firing as best they can, Utah will have to figure out some way to defend the basket when Robert is out of the game. Usually a series against a team with such talent does not have a margin of error large enough to survive a minus-8 section of key archiving.

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