This has been an interesting series that is ultimately being decided by injuries. There have been so many interesting twists and turns due to health concerns. In Game 1, we saw Rudy Gobert go down with a knee injury which sidelined him for two games. In Game 3, Blake Griffin suffered a season-ending toe injury. In Game 4, Gobert returned and the Jazz looked like clear favorites to win the game until it was discovered that Gordon Hayward was battling an illness, food poisoning to be precise. However, the Jazz still managed to win and the series is now tied at two.

Injury report

Heading back to Los Angeles, the Jazz will have Hayward and Gobert available, and Alec Burks (knee) is their only injured player.

Meanwhile for the Los Angeles Clippers, Austin Rivers will make his return after sitting out for nearly a month due to a hamstring injury. With Rivers back, the Clippers will at least have some more backcourt depth and another player they could perhaps rely on to produce offensively with Griffin out.

Rebounding will be essential

It’s interesting how the Clippers had been dominating the Jazz in rebounding until Gobert made his return. In the first three games combined, the Clippers out-rebounded the Jazz by 26. In Game 4 with Gobert back in the lineup, the Jazz out-rebounded the Clippers, 42-31. Gobert finished the game with 15 points and 13 rebounds in 24 minutes, and his rebounding will continue to be essential to Utah’s success.

His size on the defensive end keeps DeAndre Jordan off the glass and prevents the Clippers from executing alley-oop plays.

What more can Chris Paul do?

Since Griffin’s injury, Chris Paul has completely taken matters into his own hands, dominating on the offensive end. He nearly notched a triple-double in Game 4, putting up 27 points, 12 assists, and nine rebounds.

How much more can he do? At this stage of his career, he is going to need more help. While Jamal Crawford was fantastic off the bench, supplying 25 points on 9-of-13 shooting, no one else stepped up.

J.J. Redick has been overwhelmed by Joe Ingles’ size on defense, while Marreese Speights has been incredibly inconsistent.

The Clippers need more offensive production from their role players to overcome Utah’s superior defense.

The pace of the game

Again, the pace of the game is going to be the most important factor. The Jazz cannot play a fast-paced game, and the Clippers cannot play a slow-paced game. Whoever controls the pace again will come out victorious. It’s as simple as that. One way to slow down pace for Utah is by using the hack-a-Jordan late in the game. On the contrary, the Clippers can speed up the pace by having Paul push the ball up the court every time.

Utah’s veterans

The Clippers cannot allow Utah’s veterans to hurt them. Joe Johnson has essentially won both games for the Jazz in this series, and the Clippers haven’t had an answer for him.

Hayward has plenty of support from his veterans, but Paul doesn’t. It is ultimately hurting the Clippers and will continue to hurt them if there is no response from their end.

This series has been like a roller-coaster ride. Its been unpredictable due to the players coming in and out of the lineups. It’s going to be a chess match between the coaches due to all the injuries. The one who can make the smarter moves will prevail. Game 5 will be televised on TNT at 10:30 pm Eastern Time.

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