After stealing home court advantage with a Game 1 victory in Los Angeles, the Utah Jazz lost it in Game 3 when Chris Paul and the Clippers retained the advantage with a gutsy road win in Salt Lake. Although the Clippers won, they lost Blake Griffin to a toe injury. Griffin’s absence didn’t affect the team in Game 3 since Paul took over and carried the Clippers to victory, but it could hurt in the long run.

Injury report

Unfortunately, Griffin will be nursing the toe injury for the remainder of the playoffs, as he joins Austin Rivers on the injured list. For the Jazz, Rudy Gobert will sit out in Game 4 as well with the knee injury he suffered in Game 1.

Although Gobert is participating in light practices, the team wants him to be pain free before he can return to the lineup.

Chris Paul’s aggression should continue

In Game 3, Chris Paul was aggressive right from the beginning, and he answered the call. Paul’s mindset shouldn’t change in Game 4, especially now that Griffin is out. He needs to take matters into his own hands and look for his shot more than he normally would. His assertiveness will then create open opportunities for DeAndre Jordan around the rim because Utah would then have to pick their poison.

Paul is an intelligent player and has made a living with the high screen and rolls, as he uses the pick to get anywhere on the floor. He either settles for those mid-range fade-away shots or tosses an alley-oop to Jordan, who can virtually catch any ball thrown near the rim, especially since Gobert is out.

The pace of the game

Ultimately, the pace of the game is going to be the determining factor. The Jazz love playing slow in half-court sets, but they haven’t really been able to manage the pace the last two games. In Game 1, they controlled it from beginning to end, but the last two games, the pace has favored the Clippers.

Whichever team can control the pace should be the winner of Game 4. Perhaps one way for Utah to control the pace is by utilizing the hack-a-Jordan strategy. They could use the tactic to stop the flow of the Clippers’ offense if needed, and it would be easier for them to slow down the game.

Crowd’s energy

The Salt Lake crowd is very energetic and loud, which the Jazz need to use to their benefit again. In Game 3, Utah got off to a quick start because they were feeding off of the crowd’s energy. They must continue to feed off of the home crowd. If the Clippers want to win, they must take the crowd out early, making them a non-factor.

It should be another closely contested game, with a lot of physical play and back-and-forth offense. Game 4 will be at the Vivint Smart Home Arena and will tip-off at 9 pm Eastern Time on TNT.

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