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On the NBA Beat Ep. 2.30: Jovan Buha: Clippers “Much Closer to (Dominant) Team From Beginning of Season”

On this playoff edition, ESPN’s Jovan Buha joins us to help preview the Los Angeles Clippers-Utah Jazz matchup, an opening-round series that pits the league’s No. 4 offense against the No. 3 defense. The series comes at a pivotal time for the Clippers, who year after year have failed to meet high postseason expectations and will likely see three of their stars enter unrestricted free agency in the offseason. Do the Clippers have a fatal flaw, or have they merely not yet gotten over the hump? Jovan ponders that very question and much, much more. Sample some clip(per)s below:

9:25 – 10:10: Jovan discusses the legitimacy of the Clippers-as-chokers narrative and whether it affects the team: 

“It’s much easier to say a team choked than provide the context of it. With that said, there really is no other way to frame the Thunder series or the Rockets series. Both series, the Clippers should have won, or the Thunder series at least should have gone to seven. I do think the Clippers choked in both instances, but I don’t think that necessarily is their identity, and I don’t think necessarily they should be judged that way…I do think that the media narrative has gotten to them a little bit, and I do know that a lot of these guys pay attention to the media more than they let on, and it does seem to bother them more than they admit.”

19:20 – 20:29Our guest dissects the importance of home-court advantage to the Clippers’ chances in their first-round playoff matchup with the Utah Jazz:

“I think home-court [advantage] is important generally in the playoffs. We can look at the statistics and percentages, it’s like 79 percent of the time the home team wins Game 7, so I definitely think it’s a factor. What’s funny is the Clippers might be one of the few teams where it’s not really a factor, because this team…doesn’t really have the best home-court advantage…you go to a Clippers game and it’s not the loudest crowd. It’s not the most active or engaged crowd. This isn’t Oracle. This isn’t Oklahoma City. This isn’t Utah. This isn’t Portland…With that said, it’s always nice to play at home…I definitely think it’s important for them. With that said, they have proven that they can win big games on the road. They did win that Game 7 in Memphis. They won two road games in San Antonio in the Spurs series. ”

27:06 – 28:11: Jovan analyzes the tantalizing big man matchup of Rudy Gobert versus DeAndre Jordan down low:

“I think that’s gonna be a huge matchup. Literally. It’s a matchup that DeAndre has tended to do well in, but I think that this season you saw, with the rise of Gobert, we would probably all agree that they’re about equal or Rudy’s probably a little better, and I think that DJ knows of that perception shift…Rudy is just so big. I think he’s probably the second most important player for them, obviously behind Gordon Hayward. That matchup is gonna be really important. I know part of the Clippers’ game plan has been to get [Gobert] in foul trouble, and they’ve been successful with it, but…if Rudy Gobert can get away with certain stuff on the floor, that’s a massive advantage for the Jazz.”

39:56 – 41:14: Finally, why does Jovan believe that the Clippers might have trouble against the Warriors in a potential Western Conference semifinals clash?

“The issue with the Warriors is they’re so big on the perimeter and they have so many wing guys that I really think that bothers the Clippers. It’s funny: Chris Paul guarded Kevin Durant in the OKC series for like a quarter and shut him down, but you can’t ask Chris Paul to do that for a seven-game series. You just look at all the matchups. Klay Thompson’s three inches bigger than J.J. Redick. Steph Curry’s three inches bigger than Chris Paul. Kevin Durant’s three inches bigger than Luc Mbah a Moute. Blake’s bigger than Draymond [Green], but Draymond might be stronger than him or as strong as him. Then you go to the bench. Iguodala’s bigger than Austin Rivers and Jamal Crawford. Shaun Livingston’s much bigger than Raymond Felton. It’s not simply about size and length, but I think the Warriors are clearly a team that knows how to use their size and length, especially defensively…I think that people look at the 3-point bombs and the Warriors running up the score, and they’re like, ‘The Clippers can’t really defend the Warriors,’ when I don’t even necessarily think that’s the case. I actually think the Clippers can’t really score on the Warriors.”

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Music: “Who Likes to Party” by Kevin MacLeod