Could the Jazz Beat the Clippers Without Rudy Gobert?
Playoff seeding in the Western Conference was mostly settled with a few weeks left to play, and perhaps the most interesting variable -- aside from the Golden State Warriors' brief period of possibly losing the 1 seed and the 8 seed race between the Portland Trail Blazers and Denver Nuggets -- was in the middle of the bracket.
The 4 seed and 5 seed race between the Utah Jazz and Los Angeles Clippers looked like it could mean a lot for the playoff picture, as homecourt advantage looked to be enough to break the tie in what would be a close series. Our algorithms gave the Clippers a 56.02% chance to advance.
The Jazz had other ideas and won Game 1 in Los Angeles after losing out on the 4 seed.
Assuming Gobert returns for Game 2 -- far from a guarantee, per head coach Quin Snyder -- our algorithms give the Jazz a 62.64% chance to move on to the second round.
What happens if he can't return?
With or Without You
Gobert has a chance at being named Defensive Player of the Year, and for good reason.
Here are the team's regular season splits with and without Gobert, per NBAWowy.
|Jazz Splits||Offensive Rating||Defensive Rating||Net Rating|
|Gobert On Court||112.2||103.9||8.3|
|Gobert Off Court||107.3||112.0||-4.7|
That's a massive change: 13.0 points per 100 possessions. As a standalone offense, the Jazz would have ranked 7th on the season with Gobert on the floor and 21st without him, roughly the difference between the Toronto Raptors and Sacramento Kings.
Defensively, they were on par with the San Antonio Spurs and Golden State Warriors at the top of the league with Gobert but played like the 27th-ranked Minnesota Timberwolves without Gobert on the court.
And with Gobert off the floor but with Gordon Hayward on it, the team allowed 119.9 points per 100 possessions over 669 regular season possessions.
Of course, they did hold the Clippers, who scored 112.7 points per 100 possessions during the regular season, to a 103.4 offensive rating in the opening game of the series.
Our algorithms give the Jazz, up 1-0, a 54.20% chance to win three of the next six and advance past the Clippers if Gobert can't suit up again in the series. The odds are still in their favor either way, but it'd be close to a coin flip if he can't come back.