Jazz take exception to Clippers’ path to playoffs – Daily Bulletin


SALT LAKE CITY — Remember how the Clippers backpedaled into the No. 4 playoff seed with regular-season-closing losses to Houston and Oklahoma City, the teams at the bottom of the Western Conference standings?

Utah Jazz coach Quin Snyder does.

He gave the public a glimpse at the Jazz’s bulletin board on Tuesday morning, when he told reporters: “Obviously, we’re a matchup that the Clippers felt like was an advantageous matchup for them.”

At the time, Clippers coach Tyronn Lue said it was a matter of making sure everyone stayed healthy entering the playoffs.

“My biggest thing with the luck we’ve had all season, we’re just trying to get our eight or nine guys out and just make sure we’re healthy,” Lue said on May 16, when the Clippers rested six players and played starting center Ivica Zubac mere seconds – while using seldom-used rookie Daniel Oturu for 37 minutes in a 117-112 loss at Oklahoma City.

“I’ll take health over a little rust any day,” Lue said, adding that he thought the six days between the regular-season finale and Game 1 of their first-round series against Dallas would diminish any rhythm his players might start to establish.

“We talked about it as a staff and as an organization, the best thing for us is now that we have everyone pretty much healthy, we want to go into the playoffs with our guys as healthy as possible.”

And for the most part, the Clippers have had their health. (The exception: Serge Ibaka, who played two games against Dallas before back spasms sidelined him.)

Despite Lue’s stated intentions, the most popular working theory in the public was that the Clippers were trying to avoid the Lakers in the first two rounds.

In any case, those two final regular-season losses didn’t send a message the Clippers especially wanted to avoid either Dallas, who pushed the Clippers to seven games, or the top-seeded Jazz, who beat them twice in three meetings this season.

“I mean if that’s what they was doing, if they was losing games to trying to come play us, that’s the fate they chose,” said Jazz guard Jordan Clarkson, a former Laker who showed up to virtual shootaround media availability wearing a gold No. 8 Kobe Bryant jersey.

“We gonna come out there and lace ’em up and win a series – first one to four. If that’s what they was doing trying to manipulate that, thinking it is what it is, then, like I said, we gonna stick to what we do, and put our force on it.”

Lue responded flatly when asked about Snyder’s comments, and whether he was bothered by the Utah coach’s insinuation that the Clippers tanked the final two games: “I’m not offended by anything. I’ve heard it all.

“We had to get past the first round to get to them,” Lue added. “If he wants to use that as bulletin board material to get up for the series, that’s their deal.”

BIG CROWDS ARE BACK

The Jazz planned to welcome 18,000 fans into Vivint Arena for Game 1, the most since the coronavirus forced the league’s hiatus – and gradual reopening this season – in March 2020.


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