Clips vs. Jazz is stars vs. team

THE CLIPPERS face the Utah Jazz in the Western Conference semi-finals starting on Tuesday (Shutterstock).

Well, we really punted the pooch in last week’s Sports Monday by predicting that the Lakers would rally and win their series with the Phoenix Suns in seven games. On top of that, we ignored the Clippers’ epic struggle with the Dallas Mavericks.

As we all know by now, the injury-hobbled Lakers lost in six and the Clips had a heroic seventh game to win 126-111 to advance to the second round against the Utah Jazz.

But, hey, if it wasn’t for speculation (i.e., windy guesses) there’s be a lot less sportswriting and very little ESPN.

Having said that, here are some equally excellent insights into the clash between Salt Lake City and Hollywood.

First off, the Jazz have the best record in the NBA and having won their first series in five games, they could be better rested than the Clips. While the LAC has two superstars in Kawhi Leonard and Paul George, the Jazz can rely on a more balanced lineup, and possess one of the best three-point shooting teams in the league.
We’ve seen with the Lakers how an injury or two can sink the whole enterprise. With Utah, there’s a strong bench and a stout defense. They’re the best in the league right now, and the Clippers will have to play their best to beat them.

CLIPPERS SCHEDULE (NBA Western Conference Semi-Finals)

  • Tuesday: Clippers at Jazz
  • Thursday: Clippers at Jazz
  • Saturday: Jazz at Clippers
  • Monday: Jazz at Clippers
  • Wednesday (if needed): Clippers at Jazz
  • Friday (if needed): Jazz at Clippers
  • Sunday (if needed): Clippers at Jazz

So very hot, and then not

It was beginning to look like the Angels were going to finally make their move, to .500 if not into contention. Over a 12-game streak, they won eight games, and moved within striking distance of third place.

Indeed, on Saturday they looked good, hammering the Seattle Mariners 12-5. They overcame a 5-1 early deficit, rattling 15 hits around the Big A and getting good relief pitching. Seven Angels got two hits, including three home runs. One was by Shohei Ohtani, who launched his 16th homer of the season.

The Angels staged a big rally on Sunday, but it came too late. Trailing 9-2 in the ninth, they tallied three runs in the bottom of the ninth to lose 9-5 and miss a chance to move a game closer to the M’s.

ANGELS SCHEDULE: Monday to Wednesday, hosting the Royals. Friday to Sunday, at Arizona.

Dodgers were go-go, now so-so

When the season started, it looked like the defending champion Dodgers were going to make the 2021 season into a continuation of last season’s sterling – if shortened – season.

With a 14-2 start, the front office could almost be tempted to start printing playoff tickets, but then things got complicated. After that blazing burst out of the blocks, the team is 20-23 and dropped a series to the Braves in Atlanta.

“It’s been good and it’s been inconsistent,” said Dodgers manager Dave Roberts. “There’s been some really good play. There’s been some mediocre play.” He added that the win-loss record was something that he “doesn’t concern [himself] … right now.” Hmmmm …

One big setback has been the implosion of former MVP Mookie Betts, who hasn’t homered for nearly a month. “He’ll homer within the next few days,” said Roberts. Perhaps the skipper would settle for just a few more base hits, as Betts is hitting .258. As a team, the Dodgers are 12th in MLB, behind the Angels who rank ninth.

DODGERS SCHEDULE: Tuesday to Thursday at Pirates. Friday to Sunday hosting the Texas Rangers.

“Sports Monday” is written by Pete Zarustica.

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