One of the most underrated-ly good matchups of the entire NBA playoffs could be happening in the first round of the Western Conference. The Utah Jazz and LA Clippers aren't your traditional rivals, but both squads are playing their best basketball at the perfect time of the year. The Clippers actually edged out the Jazz for home court advantage by percentage points as the teams had identical records – could it be the deciding factor in the series?
When experts say that these two teams are an even matchup – it's Gospel. Utah and LA had identical overall records but also the same exact home and away splits (29-12, 22-19 respectively.) In a nutshell, this first round battle between #4 and #5 seeds is anybody's to win.
If there's one thing that breaks the equality up between Utah and LA it's the fact that the Clippers have won 3 of 4 games this season. When they've won, they've done so hugely as well notching a 13-point win in October, a 16-point win in February, and another 13-point conquering most recently on March 26th. Utah was able to salvage an 114-108 win on March 13th at home however so there is hope for Jazz backers.
Aside from head-to-head matchups, these two teams are both playing great overall. Utah had held a lead for home court coming down the stretch and usually, a 7-3 record over the last 10 helps preserve that. Then again, the Clippers went 8-2 including winning their last 7 to overtake Utah by the slimmest margins to host the series at the Staples Center.
The easy pick in this series would be the hot team (Los Angeles) with the more formidable star power. Then again, the Clippers are almost renowned for postseason collapses, failing to make it out of the 2nd round in any of the last 5 years (including 2 first round exits). Then again, this is the first time Utah has even made the postseason since 2012 and the Jazz have lost their last 8 postseason games.
The #4 vs. #5 playoff seeding would seem to indicate that this is either team's series to win and the low -210 Clippers line (Utah +180) would seem to confirm that. This really just seems like a low line, however “because it has to be”.
The Clippers are on a roll, have playoff experience, and have home court advantage. They should also be your pick in an extremely valuable betting situation.